November 14, 2013

School of Medicine receives national grant to study epilepsy

A research scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a one-year national grant from the Epilepsy Foundation to study sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. The total budget for the grant is $50,000.         

Carl L. Faingold, professor and chair of pharmacology and SIU Carbondale distinguished scholar, is the principal investigator for the project.

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, or SUDEP, is a devastating possibility for patients with epilepsy and their families. Currently there is no proven method for preventing SUDEP, which can occur without warning to individuals with the disease. The most common symptom that has been seen in cases of SUDEP or near-SUDEP is severe breathing problems.

The research will study the effect of seizures on breathing and investigate whether drugs that increase the action of brain chemicals and stimulate breathing can prevent death by using mice that develop SUDEP. The results of this research may lead to the development of a future treatment for epilepsy.

Faingold’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Health and other national foundations for 30 years and totals $3.5 million.  His research has focused on how drugs affect networks of brain cells involved in epilepsy and alcoholism. 

Faingold joined the SIU faculty in 1972 and was named chair of pharmacology in 1995.