Back to top
Frontiers in Research Seminar Series

With the support of the Nussenbaum-Vogelstein family, the goal of this program is to expose young researchers and clinicians to exciting epilepsy research, and to provide opportunities for young investigators to interact with a senior level epilepsy researcher.

Impaired Consciousness in Focal Seizures: Network Mechanisms and Treatment with Deep Brain Stimulation
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 9:00am to 10:00am

University of British Columbia

Speaker: Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD (Yale University School of Medicine)

Host: Mary Connolly, MD and Linda Huh, MD

Talk Summary: Normal consciousness and its impairment depends on widespread network function in the brain. It has therefore been a mystery why focal seizures so often cause loss of consciousness. Using a combination of human neuroimaging and intracranial EEG recordings along with fundamental studies in rodent models we found that focal hippocampal seizures produce a sleep-like state in the cerebral cortex. Thus focal hippocampal seizures cause widespread network dysfunction and loss of consciousness by inhibiting subcortical arousal systems in the brainstem, thalamus and basal forebrain, leading to cortical slow wave activity closely resembling deep sleep or coma. Most excitingly, recent work has shown that stimulation of subcortical arousal systems in rodent models can restore normal awake cortical physiology and normal exploratory behaviors despite ongoing seizure activity in the hippocampus. Although the goal of epilepsy treatment is to stop seizures, this new approach offers potential hope for people with medically and surgically refractory epilepsy who have seizures with loss of consciousness. It may be possible to restore consciousness during and after seizures with deep brain stimulation devices already available by targeting subcortical arousal systems, leading to significantly improved quality of life for these individuals
Developing new therapies for epilepsies across the lifespan: a team approach to success
Monday, February 6, 2017 - 9:00am to 10:15am

University of Melbourne

Speaker: Aristea S. Galanopoulou, MD, PhD (Albert Einstein College of Medicine)

Host: Bridgette D. Semple, PhD

Talk Summary: An unmet need in epilepsy research is to develop therapies with antiepileptogenic or disease modifying effects and treatments for drug-resistant seizures and epilepsy syndromes with poor or no therapeutic options. West syndrome is a devastating epileptic encephalopathy of infancy with characteristic seizures, infantile spasms, which has poor prognosis and needs more effective and better tolerated treatments to prevent the lifelong adverse consequences. The utilization of new rodent models of infantile spasms has accelerated the efforts to identify new candidate therapies for this syndrome. Dr. Galanopoulou will describe the progress made in preclinical therapy development for West syndrome but also the challenges and opportunities that need to be met to bring these therapies to clinical trials and practice. The role of multicenter research collaborations and international collaborative initiatives to improve infrastructure that will accelerate and optimize therapy discovery will be discussed, quoting specific examples from the infantile spasms and post-traumatic epilepsy research areas.
Blood-brain barrier in epileptogenesis: From bench to bedside and back
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

University of Pennsylvania

Speaker: Alon Friedman, MD, PhD (Dalhousie University)

Host: Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, MD, PhD

Talk Summary: Epilepsy often follows traumatic, ischemic or infectious brain injuries. Epileptogenesis is considered the gradual process in which a brain region becomes epileptic. Animal studies are required to study the mechanisms underlying epileptogenesis. Our research has been focused on the role of microvascular pathology, and specifically dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in epileptogenesis. Here I will report the role of specific pro-inflammatory molecular signaling (transforming growth factor beta) within specific cells (astrocytes) in modifying the extracellular matrix, permitting a preferential excitatory synaptogenesis and reduction in inhibitory transmission. I will discuss how these early changes lead to a pathological plasticity that underlies hypersynchronicity and hyperexcitability and reduction in seizure threshold within the associated cortical network, and provide evidence for successful prevention strategies targeting microvascular pathology. Understanding the role of BBB dysfunction and neuroinflammation in epileptogenesis highlights the potential of imaging and electrophysiological methods that allow identifying patients undergoing epileptogenesis with the ultimate goal to prevent post-injury epilepsy.
How Does the Brain Become Epileptic? From the Clinic to the Lab and Back
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

University of Maryland

Speaker: Tallie Z. Baram, MD, PhD (University of California - Irvine)

Host: Peter Crino, MD, PhD

Talk Summary: Dr. Baram has been studying how early life febrile status epilepticus can convert a normal brain into an epileptic one. The lab uses molecular and epigenetic techniques to examine how seizures cause orchestrated and enduring alterations of gene expression programs resulting in abnormal neuronal function and epilepsy. This research has led to discoveries of the role of HCN channels in epilepsy and more recently, to uncovering novel principles of transcriptional regulation in the brain. The lab employs innovative in vivo and in vitro imaging to enable early prediction of individuals who are destined to develop temporal lobe epilepsy following experimental febrile status epilepticus.
Cytotoxic Edema Drives Pharmacoresistant Seizures After Brain Injury
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Speaker: Kevin Staley, MD (Harvard Medical School)

Host: Christina Gross, PhD

Talk Summary: Dr. Staley studies mechanisms of neuronal ion transport and experimental treatments for seizures. Recent projects include the role of structural anionic macromolecules in defining neuronal chloride microdomains that determine the polarity of local GABAA receptor-gated signaling, a clinical trial using diuretics to manipulate neuronal chloride transport as adjunctive treatment for neonatal seizures, and studies of the connectome of epileptic foci.
Imaging the pathophysiology of epilepsy
Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Speaker: Julie Pan, MD, PhD (University of Pittsburgh)

Host: Priti Balchandani

Talk Summary: Studying and treating epilepsy is difficult on several grounds, including the relative insensitivity of available methods and the disorder’s intrinsic complex pathophysiology. Patients frequently have a wholly normal neurological exam, and as the most commonly used evaluation, the scalp EEG is known to be coarse and very hit-or-miss. It is not surprising then that neuroimaging is an essential component in the assessment of epilepsy; e.g., as demonstrated with the near mandated use of high accuracy structural MRI in all epilepsy. In this talk, we will push the envelope further in discussing the insights available from newer methods of functional neuroimaging, discussing work from animal and human studies. With recognition that brain function does not always parallel brain anatomy, imaging methods that are sensitive to various aspects of brain metabolism and physiology have a real role to play in better understand this complex disorder.
Discovering Mechanisms of Epileptic Encephalopathy
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Speaker: Lori Isom, PhD (University of Michigan)

Host: Catherine Christian, PhD

Talk Summary: Epileptic encephalopathies are linked to mutations in genes encoding voltage-gated sodium channel alpha and beta subunits. We are using a combination of mouse models and patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell neurons and cardiac myocytes to understand the mechanism of epileptic encephalopathy with SUDEP and to discover novel therapeutics.
Talk Title TBA
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Speaker: Annamaria Vezzani, PhD (Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research)

Host: Amy Brewster, PhD and Edward Bartlett, PhD

Talk Summary: TBD

More information about hosting a seminar

Browse FAQs