The Targeted Research Initiative for Women with Epilepsy program was developed to support research that generates initial data leading to more extensive projects that will have direct relevance to care of women with epilepsy. Research should focus on investigation of one of the many areas that preferentially affect women with epilepsy during the reproductive life cycle. This initiative recognizes the need for research and new insights into these scientific areas. The research may target any point along the reproductive spectrum, including puberty through menopause. Examples of topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following areas: neuroendocrine disorders, hormone influence on seizure susceptibility, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, contraceptive strategies, complications during pregnancy, and pregnancy outcomes.

The Foundation invites research grant applications from interested investigators to conduct innovative research in these areas, ultimately leading to advances in diagnosis and optimal therapeutic strategies for women with epilepsy. The broad focus of this RFP includes both fundamental and clinical research, and encourages translational research. The peer review for this program will assess proposals based not only on scientific merit, but also on relevance to the goals of the program.

SPRING 2013 AWARDS

Jana Veliskova, M.D., Ph.D.
New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY
NR2D subunit: Novel treatment target for status epilepticus in women

About 50% of patients with epilepsy are women. Epilepsy in women is often associated with reproductive disorders and early menopause due to imbalances in reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone). Estrogen has neuroprotective effects against status epilepticus (SE)-induced neuronal damage while progesterone has only anti-seizure but not neuroprotective properties. In contrast to men, women undergo profound hormonal changes during lifespan, which can interfere with seizures and seizure-induced neuronal damage. NMDA receptors (NMDAR) play a critical role in seizure generation and maintenance. Depending on subunit composition and/or subcellular localization, NMDAR mediate both neurotoxic and neuroprotective effects. Estrogen modulates NMDAR-mediated transmission by regulating composition, distribution and functional properties of NMDAR. Whether estrogen's neuroprotective effects against SE-induced damage involve a shift of balance to beneficial pro-survival in contrast to neurotoxic and pro-epileptogenic NMDAR effects in females lacking estrogen is unknown and will be the focus of this grant. Results will serve as a ground for personalized treatment strategies in women with epilepsy depending on their hormonal status.

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