Robert Cowan, MD, FAAN

Headache specialist

Clinical Professor, Neurology & Neurological Sciences Clinical Professor (By courtesy), Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

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Languages Spoken:
French , Spanish


Robert Cowan, MD, FAAN is Professor of Neurology and Chief of the Division of Headache Medicine at Stanford University. Prior to coming to Stanford he was ta senior clinical research scientist in molecular neurobiology at Huntington Medical Research Institutes (Pasadena, CA). Dr. Cowan attended University of Southern California, Keck Medical School, completed a residency program at USC Department of Neurology and served on faculty there until 2000. He is Board Certified in the areas of: Psychiatry and Neurology and Pain Medicine. He also holds subspecialty certification in Headache Medicine. Dr. Cowan is widely published in various scientific journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association Cephalalgia, and Headache. He has authored book chapters lectures both nationally and internationally on a variety of headache topics, and has appeared on NBC, CBS and has been featured in articles ranging from the San Francisco Chronicle to Vogue Magazine.

Dr. Cowan has held several nationally elected positions, including chair of the sections on Chronic Daily Headache and In-office Patient Education for the American Headache Society. He is immediate past President of the Headache Cooperative of the Pacific, is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. He is on the boards of the Alliance for Headache Diseases Advocacy, the Headache Cooperative of the Pacific, the American Headache and Migraine Association, and the American Council for Headache Education. He is a reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals, including Headache and Cephalalgia. He is an editor for Headache Currents. Dr. Cowan is the author of The Keeler Migraine Method (Penguin/Avery, 2008).

Along with Dr. Alan Rapoport, Professor of Neurology at UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Cowan co-founded BonTriage which develops computer-based tools to aid in the diagnosis, education, and care of people with chronic medical conditions. Dr. Cowan’s primary iresearch nterest is the pathophysiology of chronic daily headache, utilizing functional imaging, body fluid analysis and deep phenotyping. He has been the recipient of NIH, foundation, industry and individual grants and gifts for his research, .

Professional Summary

Professional Education
  • Medical Education: University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine (1986) CA
  • Residency: LACplusUSC Neurology Residency (1990) CA
  • Internship: LACplusUSC Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency (1987) CA
  • Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Neurology (1994)
  • Board Certification, Unified Council of Neurologic Subspecialties, Headache Medicine (2008)
  • Board Certification, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2000)

Honors & Awards
  • Chief Resident, LAC/USC, Los Angeles, California (1989)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Neurology (2006)
  • Fellow, American Headache Society (2010)
  • Magna Cum Laude, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts (1972)
  • Woodrow Wilson Scholar, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts (1972)

Administrative Appointments
  • Betty Higgins Family Foundation Director, Neurology (2017 - Present)
  • Chair, Refractory Headache Special Interest Section, American Headache Society, American Headache Society (2012 - Present)
  • Director,Stanford Headache Program, Stanford University School of Medicine (2011 - Present)
  • President, Headache Cooperative of the Pacific (2012 - Present)
  • Program Director, Headache Cooperative of the Pacific (2007 - 2011)
  • Vice President, Headache Cooperative of the Pacific (2007 - 2012)


Specializing In

Practice Locations

Headache Clinic Palo Alto, CA
Palo Alto, CA

Facial Pain Program Redwood City, CA
Redwood City, CA

450 Broadway Street, Pavilion A, 1st Floor

Redwood City , CA 94063

(650) 723-6238

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Headache Clinic at Boswell Building Stanford, CA
Stanford, CA

300 Pasteur Drive

Stanford , CA 94305

(650) 723-6469

Make An Appointment More Clinic Information » Getting Here »

Headache Clinic in Redwood City Redwood City, CA
Redwood City, CA

450 Broadway Street

Redwood City , CA 94063

(650) 723-6469

Make An Appointment More Clinic Information » Getting Here »

Patient Ratings

(118 Ratings)

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The Patients Ratings and comments are gathered from our Patient Satisfaction Survey and displayed in their entirety.

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Patient Reviews

(47 reviews)

Dr. Cowan is the most reliable neurologist I've had since I began treating my migraines.
Thank you to Dr. Cowan! He followed up, by phone, re: infection (for migraine (if it helped, eased the pain) given 3 1/2 hr. drive home.
Dr. Cowan is the coolest doctor I've ever met. Great, upbeat personality, and sense of humor!
Dr. Cowan is very concerned about your well being and providing his professional assistance when needed. Excellent care provider.
Felt so at ease with Dr. Cowan - Seemed to really be an expert in giving Botox injections - A great experience!
He listened to me. I loved the fellow who talked with me first. She was very personable and knowledgeable.
Dr. Cohen took a cell phone call during my appointment and commented that he did not want to hear about my ringing in my right ear.
The experience with Dr. Cowan was very good. However the visit was cut short and there was little opportunity to ask questions and developed follow up actions.
It's consistently a pleasure being seen by Dr. Cowan. He is an excellent listener, on the cutting edge w/new research. Warm. Intelligent & kind.
Very good attention.
Dr. Cowan is great.
I had a very good experience with the doctor and resident doctor.
Dr. Cowan was very kind, understanding and knowledgeable.
Great I would be happy to see him again! Those were the least painful botox injections that I've had & my heart rate did not spike at all!
Dr. Cowan and Dr. Peretz provided useful advice.
Good attend excellent.
Dr. Cowan showed no concern for my condition or side effects from the medication he prescribed. He did not give me any follow up care instructions or information - he said maybe 5 words to me.
My experience with Dr. Cohen & his assistant was very good & I would recommend him to anyone with migraines.
Very positive experience with a neurologist who understands headaches! Wish I had access to such knowledge when first diagnosed with migraines approx. 32 years ago.
Excellent care, very kind and explained everything to me. I really appreciate your expertise!!
Kind, compassionate, attentive, thorough. Jacob Hall, the neurology resident was exceptional - caring, attentive, thorough, excellent bedside manner.
Awesome doctors!
Excellent drs.
Loved Dr. Cowan very nice & knowledgeable.
This is a great doctor and I am thankful to be seen by him.
So far, I'm very happy w/the treatment options I've been presented with -
Both Doc Cowan and his assistant were wonderful and very helpful.
I was required to bring disc with radiology studies. These were never reviewed with me. It was clear that Dr. Cowan did not read my entire medical record prior to my visit.
The best migraine doctor I have ever seen!
Dr. McCawley & Dr. Cowan were very thorough & wonderful. Felt like I was in good hands.
Always get more time w/the fellow than Dr. Cowan.
Awesome doctor - good listener. (Fellow was also wonderful.)
Dr. Cowan treated me with respect and had genuine concerns about my health. Dr. Aurora and Carol Ann Barch don't seem to care about helping me.
Dr. Cowan and his fellows were superb in all ways.
This was a consultation arranged by my treating neurologist (from Stanford) to assess my eligibility for a procedure performed elsewhere in Stanford - a limited, non-traditional role for Cowan.
Love Doctor Cowan!! Wished I'd come sooner.
When I see Dr. Cowan it's amazing! Yet NOT so when I see Barch, etc. Wish you were less busy so I could always see Dr. Cowan.
99% of visit was with assistant doctor (she had a fellowship). Dr. Cowan spent 5 minutes or less with me.
Super happy with my care from Dr. Cowan & Dr. Barch.
Dr. Cowan was great.
GREAT effort to include me in decision making, but I felt rushed to make decision without enough information.
This provider and I "clash" on some aspects of my care re: medications - opiates, so I've been transferring most of my care, aside from Botox to other providers. He is, however, very friendly & caring.
I was really nervous to get botox for my migraines. Dr. Cowan really eased that fear.
Dr. Cowan was very friendly, competent & informed - - helped me with decisions re" my care. Feel confident seeing him.
'Botox day' did not allow time so I am returning to talk.
Very respectful.

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