Couple Solving Different Pieces of Epilepsy Puzzle

Couple Solving Different Pieces of Epilepsy Puzzle

Timothy Simeone, Ph.D., and Kristina Simeone, Ph.D., School of Medicine faculty-researchers in pharmacology, are a power couple in the world of neurological treatment research.

The husband and wife, ages 40 and 37 respectively, approach the puzzle of epilepsy from different perspectives. Their research is funded by such organizations as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, the Epilepsy Foundation of America and the Nebraska Health Care Funding Act.

Tim recently received a five-year, 
$1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to identify new mechanisms in epilepsy to provide targets for medications. This study is related to his previous research that identified a particular pathway (PPARgamma) important for the management of seizures in children and adolescents with the high-fat ketogenic diet.

Kristina is a neuroanatomist and neurobiologist currently researching sleep disorders associated with epilepsy. She is also studying brain metabolism (how the brain processes and uses energy) and how it differs in epilepsy. When she was awarded a five-year NIH grant in 2011, she was among only 1 percent of principal investigators who were 34 or younger when they received NIH R01 (health-related) funding. The average age for first-time recipients of such grants is 42.  

Despite their different approaches, the Simeones’ combined interests and expertise allow them to collaborate at times. They both recently presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, which gathered more than 31,000 neuroscientists from around the world. Together, their labs are revealing the complex interplay among many factors that affect the epileptic brain.

Also, because other neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s share certain characteristics with epilepsy, there is potential for even wider applications of their research.