Our research is focused on better answering the two most common questions patients ask their neurologist in the Epilepsy Clinic: “What is the cause of my epilepsy?” and “How can my epilepsy be treated?” A better understanding of the cause for an individual patient will underpin the era of more personalised treatments to improve outcomes for this debilitating disorder.

1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy and the current “one size fits all model” is not effective for more than one third of patients who remain drug resistant (refractory epilepsy).

“What is the cause of my epilepsy?”

The role of genomics has been well established in epilepsy, initially with family and twin studies and then with the discovery of single genes causing epilepsy. What has evolved is that the vast majority of epilepsy patients have a more complex genomic basis for their epilepsy.

By integrating genomic testing into clinical care, we can provide a better understanding of the cause of epilepsy for a particular patient. This approach will end the diagnostic odyssey of searching for how and why they developed epilepsy and will enable precision-based, personalised treatment approaches based on the individual’s genomic results.

“How can my epilepsy be treated?”

To fundamentally change the way drug resistant epilepsy patients are being treated we are developing a patient-specific, in vitro brain organoid drug-screening platform that can identify effective anti-seizure drugs. We plan to test whether such in vitro identified drug regimens are “real-world” effective in treating epilepsy in a particular drug-resistant patient, highlighting a precision-based approach for optimal drug selection – reducing the burden on patients and their families.

Our clinical and basic science team

Associate Professor Lata Vadlamudi is a Principal Research Fellow and group leader at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, and Senior Staff Specialist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Lata has 15 years’ experience as a researcher. This, coupled with her expertise as a neurologist in clinical practice for almost 20 years, provides her with unique insights into patient needs and the skills to develop and implement much needed research into epilepsy.

Professor Ernst Wolvetang is an international leader in the field of pluripotent stem cell biology and functional genomics for almost 20 years.  He is the senior group leader of the Stem Cell Engineering Group at The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and Co-director of the Centre for stem cell ageing and regenerative engineering (stemCARE).

Our team also collaborates with Associate Professor Jeffrey Craig from Deakin University in Victoria, who is an epigeneticist and twin researcher with over 20 years’ experience. He is the Deputy Director of Twins Research Australia.