Epilepsy, a seizure disorder that is characterized by spontaneous and recurring seizures, is the fourth most common neurological disorder. Roughly 3.5 million individuals in the United States are living with epilepsy; 500,000 of them children. While seizures are the primary hallmark of epilepsy, many patients experience a spectrum of co-morbidities that can include altered cognitive development as well as deficits in learning and memory, mood disorders and depression. There are still many unknowns about epilepsy including how and why epileptic networks form, and what are the cellular and molecular hallmarks of epilepsy. Moreover, a significant population of patients with epilepsy are resistant to medical intervention.
UC Davis has a team of neuroscientists that ranges from cellular and molecular to systems and ultimately clinician scientists who are dedicated to the study and the development of novel therapies for epilepsy. Questions our neuroscientists are addressing in their laboratories include:
- Why and how do epileptic networks form? How do seizures propagate across a network of neurons?
- Are there specific changes in neurons, astrocytes or microglia that trigger seizures or lead to the development of epilepsy?
- Can we leverage new technologies (genomics, gene-encoded sensors, high resolution microscopy, electrophysiology, MRI, etc) spanning the levels of cell culture, animal model and our patient population, to uncover mechanisms or develop innovative therapies?
- Current medical targets effectively treat 60-70% of patients with epilepsy. However, many of the interventions have debilitating side-effects. Can we leverage data related to the mechanisms of epilepsy to develop innovative treatments with high efficacy and low side-effect profiles?
- Can we use non-invasive or invasive neurostimulation to treat seizure disorders including both the seizures and the common co-morbidities?
Faculty studying epilepsy
- Tsung-Yu Chen, MD, PhD
- John Gray, MD, PhD
- Gene Gurkoff, PhD
- Alex Nord, PhD
- Charan Ranganath, PhD
- Andrew Yonelinas, PhD