Cain Lab researcher receives a fellowship from the American Epilepsy Society


Dr. Wu Chen, postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Dr. Mingshan Xue, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and Caroline DeLuca Scholar at the Gordon and Mary Cain Labs for Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation Laboratories, Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital has been selected to receive a postdoctoral research fellowship from the American Epilepsy Society.

The American Epilepsy Society (AES) is one of the oldest neurological professional organizations in this country. The Society seeks to promote interdisciplinary communications, scientific investigation and exchange of clinical information about epilepsy. Membership consists of clinicians, scientists investigating basic and clinical aspects of epilepsy, and other professionals interested in seizure disorders. Members represent both pediatric and adult aspects of epilepsy.

AES Postdoctoral Research Fellowships support postdoctoral trainees conducting research into the causes, treatment, and consequences of epilepsy under the guidance of a mentor with expertise in epilepsy research. The fellowship award offers up to $45,000 for stipend and travel support for one year, as well as a one-year AES membership.

This fellowship will support Dr. Chen’s research studies on epileptic encephalopathies, which are a group of severe neurological disorders affecting infants and children and cause aggressive multi-form intractable seizures and neurological comorbidities.

Mutations in syntaxin binding protein 1 (STXBP1) are one of the most frequent genetic causes of epileptic encephalopathies. Treatment options for these conditions are very limited, as the current antiepileptic drugs are often ineffective. It is commonly thought that epileptic activity during early brain development permanently alters neuronal networks, contributing to the pathogenesis of epileptic encephalopathies.

Dr. Chen proposes to use newly generated Stxbp1 mutant mice to determine if and to what extent the phenotypes of STXBP1-related epileptic encephalopathies can be genetically treated in adulthood. The results from this research will provide a key piece of knowledge on the feasibility of treating adults with STXBP1 mutations and developing potential therapeutic interventions.