We use a number of approaches to address questions about how seizures can occur, how they spread through cortical and sub-cortical brain areas, and what the ultimate impact on the other body organs may be. The most serious consequence is sudden death.
Our main research focus has been the causes and consequences of seizure activity. One approach uses in vitro methods (brain slices, dissociated neurons) to study cellular and circuit mechanisms of seizure generation, and a second approach uses in vivo methods (animals, human subjects, human cases) to study seizure spread and systemic consequences of seizures.
We use multiple animal models, including a rat model that mirrors features of seizures and systemic pathology found in temporal lobe epilepsy patients. This model has permitted us to define many of the autonomic, cardiovascular, and respiratory consequences of acute and chronic seizures. In particular, we have defined the mechanism for sudden death in epilepsy (SUDEP) as a consequence of seizure-induced laryngospasm sufficient to cause obstructive apnea, which lasts to the point of respiratory arrest.
Our work has enabled the development of tools and strategies to prevent death. In addition to biomarkers that can be used to signal the “death sequence” has started, we have derived other interventional devices from our work. These devices are examples of practical therapeutic applications as one means for translating research from bench to bedside.
Rena Orman, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor
Co-director, Program in Nanomedicine (a joint program with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Albany, NY)
Co-director, Program in Developmental Neuroscience (a joint program with the Institute for Basic Research, Staten Island, NY)