Laboratory of Translational Epilepsy (LTE)
We are interested in deciphering the complex networks of gene regulation that control the function of inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain and harnessing them to develop treatments for epilepsy and other related neurological disorders.
What drives us? The need for a better understanding of why current drug treatments for epilepsy fail and/or produce significant side-effects that impair the quality of life. The faces and stories of so many individuals and their families whose lives have been ruined by this terrible condition. The fact that the processes so important for learning and memory, motivation, and reward are so intimately connected to the signaling pathways activated in response to seizures. AND most importantly we are passionate about deciphering the genetic switches that regulate plasticity in the nervous system and developing small molecules that can reverse the destructive effects of these signals when they become dysfunctional.
What tools do we use? Our studies involve the use of primary cultured neurons from different regions of the brain that are manipulated to test hypotheses of signal transduction which are tested in vivo using viral delivery into adult animals, or in developing embryos, via electroporation of multiple DNA vectors and silencing RNA molecules. Laser capture microdissection (LCM) allows us to purify neuronal and glial populations from behavioral models of epilepsy, in collaboration with our colleague Amy Brooks-Kayal at University of Colorado, and from models in the laboratory that may be relevant to psychiatric depression and learning disorders. Individual cells are then assayed for cell specific changes in gene regulation. Taken together, these tools allow us to test the ability of genetic manipulation to prevent the onset of chronic epilepsy as well as the comorbid conditions of depression, autism, and cognitive impairment.
Where are we located? We are located on the 6th floor of the Instructional Building (L611-12), Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, at 72 East Concord Street, Boston, MA, 02118 Boston University School of Medicine.