The vision of our team, led by Associate Professor Lata Vadlamudi, is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder in our society and affects over 50 million people worldwide and the cause remains unknown in 65% of cases. The clear benefits of this research will be to patient care as the commonly-asked clinical questions are: “What is the cause of my epilepsy?” and “How can my epilepsy be cured?” Patient management will be enhanced by a deeper understanding of mechanisms as well as development of peripheral biomarkers.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression without changes to the DNA sequence. The most studied epigenetic mechanism is DNA methylation. Twins are an ideal paradigm for differentiating between the three major components of phenotypic variation: genetics, shared, and non-shared environment. The discordant monozygotic twin model further provides an elegant study design that controls for shared genetic and environmental factors, enabling focus on the non-shared environment, the largest component of risk variance across all chronic disorders. Twin models are ideal for understanding the epigenetic and genetic landscape in epilepsies.

A/Prof Lata Vadlamudi has been a researcher in the field of epilepsy genetics for over 15 years and also a neurologist in clinical practice. Our team works with A/Prof Jeffrey Craig from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, who is an epigeneticist and twin researcher with over 20 years’ experience.

Funding for this research has been from the following sources: Queensland Health Research Fellowship, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Research Project Grant, Viertel Charitable Foundation Establishment Grant, Ramaciotti Establishment Grant and RACP Servier Barry Young Fellowship in Neurology.