Faculty Feature Abby Kissel

Abby Kissel, MD, grew up right here in St. Louis (University City), with WashU undergrad and medical school always in her orbit. The undergrad campus was practically in her backyard and was where her oldest (of three) sisters went to college, and her second oldest sister attended law school. The medical campus is where her father trained and practiced internal medicine early in his career and where her mother and third oldest sister worked in nursing and education. As such, it seemed almost destined that she ended up here when she decided to practice medicine, but she was determined to have broad educational and training experiences prior to “coming home.”

After attending John Burroughs High School, Kissel took off to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she studied molecular biology and psychology. She greatly enjoyed her time near Chicago where she had the honor of studying under some of the most elite in their scientific fields (including serving on a “think tank” in Aryeh Routtenberg’s lab before graduation), as well as, cheering on their “nerdiest in the Big Ten” sports teams. While jogging along the lake was beautiful in the summer, it was the Chicago winters (and some amazing research going on in Texas) that had her thinking about flying south for her medical school training.

Kissel attended Baylor College of Medicine in the Houston, Texas Medical Center as the next step in her education. It was there that mentors like Ralph Feigen — a giant in Pediatrics — and David Eagleman — a pioneer in neuroscience and one of Kissel’s first examples of “thinking outside of the box” — began to shape her career. Houston was also where Kissel purchased her first fixer upper condo and fell in love with DIY and housing renovations, and after a flip of her med school condo and a short trip up to Dallas, she began her pediatric residency training at UT Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center. Dallas remained Kissel’s home through her pediatric training, as well as, her time serving as a chief resident in pediatrics and faculty in the Complex Care Clinic, Adolescent and Young Adult divisions and resident training supervisor at Los Barrios Community Clinic — a federally qualified health center. It was also where she realized that she wanted to have a career in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) and set about convincing her center to establish a fellowship training pathway in this subspecialty, allowing her to be the first fellow. She graduated to a position split between helping in the DBP clinic at UTSW and the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Scottish Rite Hospital. Although, after 16 years, Kissel was still only a Texas transplant. Dallas will always have a place in her heart as the springboard for her love of DBP and the place where she had her two boys, Henry (7) and Benny (5), who keep her and her partner, Chad, constantly busy with sports, swimming and art projects at home (mini-DIY).

After taking stock of things during COVID-19 and finishing up the second of two large housing renovations in Dallas, Kissel decided it was time to come home. She has an express interest in developing the DBP clinic at WashU into a place of great care for families and great training for residents and future DBPs. She has taken on her most challenging renovation yet by moving her parents in with her family to slowly bring a multi-generational home into the 21st century. She is excited for all of the opportunities to be back with family, friends and the community at large and can’t wait to bring her diverse training and educational experience home to St. Louis.

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