Epilepsy research is significantly underrepresented in University Seminar Series and Grand Rounds that take place at institutions across the country. In an effort to spread news about innovative research in epilepsy, CURE is pleased to sponsor a University-based invited lectureship program – Frontiers in Research. 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.
CURE will support each sponsored lecture with a gift of $2,500 USD* to offset costs associated with hosting a seminar. Such costs include: travel expenses for one epilepsy investigator to the host institution for a visit of up to 2 nights, a meal with the speaker and students/postdocs/fellows, a meal with speaker and faculty, and material expenses involved with seminar set-up and execution.
*Incremental support of up to $500 USD may be available when international travel is involved. Requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Liz Higgins (Liz@CUREepilepsy.org) for more information.
Join us on the journey to discover new treatments and therapies that will lead to a CURE
British Columbia, Canada
Where: British Columbia Children’s Hospital – University of British Columbia
When: Tuesday, January 31, 2017: 9:00 – 10:00am PT
Speaker: Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD (Yale University School of Medicine)
Hosts: 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.
Where: Melbourne Brain Centre, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
When: Monday, February 6, 2017: 9:00 – 10:15am AEST
Speaker: Aristea S. Galanopoulou, MD, PhD
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.
Where: University of Pennsylvania
When: Wednesday, February 22, 2017: 4:00 – 5:00pm ET
Speaker: Alon Friedman, MD, PhD
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.
College Park, Maryland
Where: University of Maryland
When: Wednesday, April 12, 2017: 4:00 – 5:00pm ET
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.
Where: Research Auditorium at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
When: Wednesday, April 19, 2017: 12:00 – 1:00pm EST
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.
New York, New York
Where: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
When: Thursday, September 14, 2017: 11:00am – 12:00pm ET
Speaker: Julie Pan, MD, PhD (University of Pittsburgh)
Host: Priti Balchandani, PhD
TALK SUMMARY: In development.
Where: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
When: Tuesday, October 17, 2017: 4:00 – 5:00pm CT
Speaker: Lori Isom, PhD (University of Michigan)
Host: Catherine Christian, PhD
TALK SUMMARY: In development.
CURE’s goal in developing this lectureship program is to attract the best and brightest minds into the field of epilepsy research. Approximately 10 seminars will be sponsored at different institutions each academic year with one goal – to present cutting-edge epilepsy research to a wide audience of researchers, clinicians, young investigators, and students.
If you have any questions about the Frontiers in Research Seminar Series program, please contact Liz Higgins at Liz@CUREepilepsy.org