Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder worldwide and can affect children, adults and the elderly. The most distinguishing characteristic of epilepsy is the unpredictable seizure. Many patients with epilepsy have multiple types of seizures and other neurological impairments. A brain injury or a genetic condition may be the source of this condition. However, in many cases, the cause is unknown.
My main research focus is to understand the underlying causes of epilepsy, specifically the anatomical and physiological anomalies that initiates development of the disorder. My current work aims to better understand the PTEN-TSC-mTOR pathway and its role in the development of abnormal neurons that impact epileptic networks. My research with Dr. Steve Danzer has shown that abnormal hippocampal dentate granule cells can develop a hyperexcitable neural network. When the number of these cells increases, so does their impact on the network, resulting in generalized seizures and inhibitory cell loss.
My other research interests include the initiation and propagation of spreading depolarizations, techniques to visualize neural circuits in vivo, learning and memory, and the cognitive and behavioral comorbidities of epilepsy. In collaboration with Dr. Jesse Skoch, current research projects aim to compare the usage of optical intrinsic signal imaging and calcium imaging in vivo, as well as to characterize the properties of spreading depolarizations. Other lab projects include behavioral and electrophysiological experiments to identify the impact of abnormal hippocampal neural circuits.
The overarching goal of my research is to understand the development and impact of abnormal neural circuits and how they cause seizure activity. Once we identify the changes that occur to make epileptic networks, we can then develop innovative approaches to stop the progression of epilepsy.
Due to its high occurrence, epilepsy touches the lives of many individuals, their caregivers, support networks and communities. I have family members and friends that struggle with this disorder. With my background in neuroscience, I felt that by joining the research community, I could advance our understanding of the disorder and possibly contribute to potential new therapies.
I have more than 15 years’ expertise in neuroscience and first began working with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2011. I am passionate about epilepsy research. In 2017, I was an American Epilepsy Society Postdoctoral Fellow and currently serve on two different committees for the American Epilepsy Society. My research has been published in exceptional journals such as Neuron, Neurobiology of Disease, Experimental Neurology, Research Horizons and eNeuro.
Epilepsy; neurological disorders; learning and memory; spreading depolarizations
Instructor, UC Department of Anesthesia