November 23, 2020

Announcing the CURE Epilepsy Grantees!

We are very pleased to announce our grant recipients. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were more determined than ever to ensure that CURE Epilepsy continues to advance epilepsy research. The eight novel research projects highlighted here, a combination of Taking Flight and CURE Epilepsy grants, will accelerate our ability to find cures for epilepsy. These investigators represent a range of young researchers, early in their career, who are “taking flight,” demonstrating their leadership and readiness to establish themselves independent of their mentors, as well as established researchers who are working zealously to further our understanding so we can achieve our goal – a cure for this devastating condition.

Announcing the Recent Taking Flight Award and CURE Epilepsy Award Grantees

Taking Flight Award Grantees

Ediberto Amorim de Cerqueira, M.D.
University of California, San Francisco – Dr. Amorim will define EEG signatures that predict  seizure risk after an acute brain injury. Dr. Amorim will also use EEG signatures to understand responses to anti-seizure drugs and use the knowledge gained to improve treatment decisions. The hope is that a data-driven approach to assess seizure risk and treatment response will help pave the way to personalized treatments that can prevent epilepsy from developing after acute brain injury. Read more »

Mark Bennett, Ph.D.
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia – Dr. Bennett will address the role of ‘repeat expansions’ in epilepsy. Repeat expansions are genetic changes that occur when repeated segments of DNA are copied many times. Dr. Bennett’s approach will be to analyze available data using cutting-edge computation methods and seek to discover novel repeat expansions that are associated with epilepsy. Read more »
Ankit Khambhati, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco – Dr. Khambhati aims to optimize paradigms used to stimulate the brain with a goal of interfering with seizure activity, leading to faster and more effective control of focal-onset seizures. Dr. Khambhati will develop a detailed map of patterns of stimulation and epileptic network response with the goal of being able to better calibrate implantable neurostimulation devices to provide more effective, long-term control of seizures. Read more »
Cristina Reschke, Ph.D.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Dr. Reschke will focus on how disruptions of circadian rhythms affect gene expression during development of epilepsy. This study will also look at developing a gene therapy approach to restore proper function of a central gene that is involved in regulating circadian rhythms. Dr. Reschke’s research project is generously funded by The Cameron Boyce Foundation. Read more »
Ranmal Samarasinghe, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles – Dr. Samarasinghe will study 3D brain-like structures derived from the cells of people with epilepsy who have a mutation in the SCN8A gene to uncover cellular changes that account for differences in neuronal activity in different areas of the brain. He will use these structures as a model to test novel anti-seizure medications. Read more »

CURE Epilepsy Award Grantees

Christina Gross, Ph.D. and Steven Crone, Ph.D.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – Drs. Gross and Crone will use mouse models to test if changes in a specific genetic pathway, called the PI3K/mTOR pathway, lead to breathing abnormalities and Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). The team will also test whether blocking this pathway with a specific compound reduces breathing abnormalities and SUDEP. This work could ultimately lead to a novel treatment that will reduce the risk of SUDEP. Read more »

Nuria Lacuey Lecumberri, M.D., Ph.D.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston – Dr. Lecumberri’s project aims to improve the overall understanding of breathing control and how it is associated with SUDEP. The project will identify specific brain areas that are important for breathing function and develop stimulation techniques that may be used to prevent seizure-induced breathing failure. If successful, this research could be useful for developing brain stimulation strategies to prevent SUDEP. Read more »

Nigel Pedersen, M.D.
Emory University – The goal of Dr. Pedersen’s research is to understand the mechanisms underlying the well-recognized relationship between sleep and epilepsy. The team will use a mouse model of medial temporal lobe epilepsy to understand how sleep and seizure severity are related. They will then use novel techniques to manipulate specific areas of the brain to determine the impact of these brain circuits on seizures and lay the groundwork for transformative treatments for epilepsy. Read more »

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