Meiling Zhao, PhD – University of Michigan
Establishing the role of the noradrenergic network during seizures in Dravet syndrome
Postdoctoral Fellowship – $75,000, 1 year
Individuals with Dravet syndrome suffer from severe seizures that cannot be completely controlled by medications. While most epilepsy research has focused on the more superficial brain regions that we know are prone to seizures, an improved understanding of the role of deeper brain regions in epilepsy may open the door to new therapeutic strategies. The focus of this proposal is a deep brain region called the locus coeruleus, which sends noradrenergic projections throughout seizure-prone brain regions. The locus coeruleus is known as a “master regulator” that coordinate brain-wide states, such as reward and attention; I hypothesize that it also plays a critical role in seizures in Dravet syndrome. I will use a mouse model of Dravet syndrome, further engineered to enable access to noradrenergic neurons, to (1) determine the activity of these neurons during seizures and (2) test whether their activation curtails seizures.
About the Investigator:
Dr. Meiling Zhao completed her PhD at the University of Michigan, where she investigated cognitive learning deficits in an autism mouse model. She then joined Dr. Joanna Mattis’s lab at the University of Michigan extending her research interest into the field of epilepsy. Her current research focuses on the role of noradrenergic circuits during seizures in Dravet syndrome.