Taking Flight Award

Optogenetic Rescue of Seizure-Induced Apnea

Ian Wenker, PhD
University of Virginia

There is increasing evidence that respiratory arrest is the primary cause of death for many cases of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). In a novel mouse model of SUDEP, Dr. Wenker observed that death is due to respiratory arrest that originates during the tonic phase of seizures. He hypothesizes that breathing recovery is possible once this tonic activity subsides.

In this study, Dr. Wenker proposes to activate specific neuronal populations of the brainstem that either inhibit or stimulate inspiratory activity (inhalation) to recover breathing. The results will provide insight into how the brain’s control of breathing is altered during seizures and identify therapeutic targets for SUDEP.


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