The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has granted the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison $5 million over four years for epilepsy research, starting this month.
Jeffrey Binder, MD, MCW neurology and biophysics professor, and Elizabeth Meyerand, PhD, UW-Madison department of biomedical engineering professor and chair will lead an investigation team of 14 other individuals from MCW and UW-Madison in the study.
“The expertise at MCW and UW-Madison in physics and functional MRI technologies, as well as in functional connectivity studies, make this collaborative group an ideal one to conduct this study,” said Binder.
The Epilepsy Connectome Project will use brain imaging to track changes and declines in brain function as a result of temporal-lobe epilepsy, the disease’s most common form in adults.
Focusing on the fiber network connecting various brain regions called the connectome, the project is the first research effort to identify this network in a large group of people with a definite brain condition.
Researchers will use MRI and MEG imaging and mental ability tests to collect and compare the connectome data of 200 epileptic adults to data of healthy adults from the NIH’s Human Connectome Project, done in 2009. The comparative results will provide information about seizure frequency, seizure medication and cognitive ability changes.
“Cutting-edge imaging technology and methods will allow us to generate a much more comprehensive picture of brain changes due to epilepsy than has ever before been possible,’’ said Dr. Meyerand.
Teams at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care and Marshfield Clinic will also contribute to the study.