Kelsey Paulhus, a PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Edward Glasscock who is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at SMU, has received a predoctoral fellowship award from the American Epilepsy Society (AES) to support her research and professional development activities. These one-year fellowships provide $30,000 in funding to predoctoral students that are participating in epilepsy-related research under the guidance of a mentor who has expertise in the epilepsy field. Epilepsy is the fourth most common chronic neurological disease in the United States affecting up to one in 26 people during their lifetime.
Kelsey was one of only six predoctoral awardees chosen by AES to receive this prestigious and highly competitive fellowship for 2022. She was selected for her innovative research proposal to study the contribution of cortico-limbic brain regions to cardiorespiratory dysfunction and SUDEP risk. SUDEP is short for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy and represents the leading cause of epilepsy-related mortality making it a serious public health concern that has so far remained unsolved. As part of her proposed research, Kelsey plans to measure the coordinated activity of the brain, heart, and lungs in specially engineered genetic mouse models of epilepsy to investigate how particular seizure-generating brain regions can also initiate cardiac and breathing problems when a seizure occurs. The findings of her research have important implications for identifying the brain circuits underlying SUDEP, as well as for elucidating the cardiorespiratory pathophysiology associated with heightened risk of seizure-related death.
The American Epilepsy Society is a medical and scientific society of 4,200 members dedicated to advancing research and education for preventing, treating, and curing epilepsy. With the financial aid provided by this award, Kelsey plans to attend the AES annual meeting this December in Nashville, TN where she will present the initial findings of her research to the epilepsy research community.