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The Epilepsy Foundation in partnership with the American Epilepsy Society is pleased to announce our new next generation scientist’s awardees. Their research focus spans a wide range of areas from genetics and inflammation to assessing healthcare outcomes in epilepsy. Please see below for more information on who the awardees are and what they will be studying. Some of the awardees below have also been named 2017 Kevin's Fellow honorees. 

Junior Investigator Research Award

Presented through a partnership between Epilepsy Foundation and the American Epilepsy Society

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Gemma Carvill PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurology, Northwestern University
Research Topic: Expanding Epilepsy Genetics beyond the Exome

2017 Kevin's Fellow honoree

The overall mission of Dr. Gemma Carvill’s lab is to define the genetic basis of epilepsy, understand disease mechanisms, and develop new therapeutics. Current medications only treat the symptoms of a seizure but not the underlying cause. Genetics provide a clue to potential mechanisms about why the epilepsy begins.

Over the past few years, there has been tremendous progress in identifying novel genetic causes for epilepsy subtypes in children. This research project will focus on the impact that newly uncovered mutations or changes in the sodium channels SCN1, SCN2, and SCN8A have on the brain network. Dr. Carvill will study how these changes affect neuronal networks and how common these genetic variations are in children with severe forms of epilepsy.

Research & Training Fellowships for Clinicians

Presented through a partnership between Epilepsy Foundation and the American Epilepsy Society

Luca Bartolini MD
Children’s National Health System and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
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Research Topic: Research Study on Viral and Inflammatory Causes of Epilepsy

2017 Kevin's Fellow honoree

Dr. Luca Bartolini will examine the frequency of herpes virus and Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infection in children with acute-seizures. Specifically, he will test whether children who come to the clinic with high fevers and acute seizures are more likely to be infected with the herpes virus or EBV compared to those who appear in the clinic with high fevers but no seizures, or compared to healthy children. These studies will contribute to our knowledge about the relationship between inflammation, acute seizures, and epilepsy.

Brain inflammation is one of the many causes of seizures. Scientists are testing whether the inflammatory response can cause epilepsy to develop in certain people. Earlier studies suggest that the herpes virus HHV-6B is present in the brains of some children with febrile status epilepticus and temporal lobe epilepsy. However, the actual association between herpes virus infection, and other common viruses like EBV, and epilepsy is unknown.

Adam Numis MD
University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital
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Research Topic: An Inflammatory Molecular Profile in Treatment Response of Infantile Spasms

Dr. Numis will study whether inflammatory markers in the blood change during treatment with prednisolone, adrenocorticotropin hormone, or vigabatrin, and whether these markers could predict who responds better to treatment of infantile spasms.

Infantile spasms (IS) are a severe type of seizure that can be resistant to medication and can progress to involve other seizure types and cognitive delay. Poor cognitive outcomes appear to be related to the length of time the seizures remain uncontrolled. Therefore, efficient and effective therapy is critical. Unfortunately, many patients do not respond to initial therapies and predictors of response to treatment are lacking. Neurohormonal medications that can alter inflammation, including prednisolone and adrenocorticotropin hormone, are frequently used in the treatment of IS. Their effectiveness suggests that inflammation plays a role in this disorder.

Susan Spencer Clinical Research Fellowship

Co-Sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology, the American Brain Foundation, the American Epilepsy Society, and the Epilepsy Foundation

Alice Lam MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Research Topic: Developing a Neurophysiologic Toolbox for Diagnosing Epilepsy in Alzheimer's Disease

Dr. Lam will study the following questions: Alice Lam.jpg

  1. What is the actual prevalence of epilepsy in people with Alzheimer’s disease?
  2. Can the abnormal electrical activity be detected through non-invasive EEG wearables?
  3. Is brain electrical activity associated with changes in electrodermal activity?

Studies suggest that epilepsy is a common but often under-recognized in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The abnormal brain electrical activity reported in AD patients occurs in the temporal lobe. Recent studies suggest that electrodermal activity (sweat response) can be an indicator of seizures in the temporal brain region. Overall, her work will generate new tools and knowledge that would enhance our understanding of epilepsy in AD. It is possible that the underlying epilepsy contributes to the cognitive decline associated with AD. Therefore, this work may also indicate that anti-seizure medications may be useful in treating the AD population.

Epilepsy Foundation Clinical Research Apprenticeship

Administered by the American Epilepsy Society

Lu Lin
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Research Topic: Assessing Efficacy and Adverse Events of New AEDs in Hospitalized Patients

Dr. Lin is developing a standardized assessment tool to collect prospective information on patients to better report antiepileptic drug (AED) dosing and indications, adverse effects, and efficacy.

Once the tool is developed, Dr. Lin will use it to assess the patterns of use, safety, and effectiveness of three new AEDs (brivaracetam, perampanel, and clobazam) in hospitalized patients with seizures. The prospective observational trial will be performed at three sites of the Critical Care EEG Monitoring Research Consortium (CCEMRC). This information will be critical to comparing the drug’s effectiveness and safety and to ensuring evidence-based practices for optimal standard of care.

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