The Yale Epilepsy Program has been a world leader in epilepsy research for several decades, from many aspects including basic science, imaging, medications, devices and multicenter clinical trials. For the past few years, we have greatly expanded and enhanced our clinical, teaching and research programs. One new initiative we began in 2011 (shortly after my arrival at Yale) was the organization of a Yale Epilepsy Research Retreat. This effort has been spearheaded and directed by Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Neurobiology and Neurosurgery here at Yale. Hal is a highly respected and widely known (throughout the world) epilepsy investigator who has served as an external reviewer for similar programs in other countries. The goals of the retreat are to promote both the quantity and quality of epilepsy-related research through exchange of ideas, self- and external evaluation, and fostering collaborations. By bringing together basic scientists, clinicians and others at Yale or collaborating programs, we have been able to improve the translational aspect of the research, and come up with new directions. We have discussed wide-ranging topics including cellular physiology, animal models, metabolomics of seizures and epileptogenesis, brain stimulation to maintain awareness during seizures, mood and quality of life, the gastrointestinal biome, and using music theory to interpret the EEG.
The first 3 retreats have been a huge success. These were held in 2011 (external moderator: Dr. Tom Sutula), 2012 (Gregory Holmes) and 2014 (James McNamara). Most of the time is dedicated to brief platform presentations followed by extensive discussion. Poster sessions are held as well, and ample time is left for networking and collaborative discussions, including a dinner event.
Our November 2015 was moderated by Tallie Baram, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, Anatomy and Neurobiology, Physiology and Biophysics, and the Danette Shepard Professor of Neurological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Baram is a highly respected and internationally renowned epileptologist and neuroscientist, and we are delighted that she has agreed to attend and moderate the full program.