Thomas Jefferson University Research Magazine



Epilepsy, one of the most common neurological conditions, is characterized by recurrent seizures prompted by abnormal, excessively synchronous firing of neurons in the brain. It may be caused by abnormal brain connections, an imbalance of neurotransmitters or changes in signaling channels within brain cells. For about 70 percent of patients, seizures can be controlled with pharmaceutical treatments. But for many—especially those who experience prolonged seizures— current treatments are ineffective and epilepsy can be life-threatening.

Clinician-scientist Michael Sperling, MD, Baldwin Keyes Professor of Neurology, is internationally known for his work in epilepsy surgery and electrophysiology. He integrates clinical practice with research, trying to understand why certain patients benefit from available treatments—and to identify new, effective therapies for those who do not. Dr. Sperling founded and directs the Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, noted for its basic science and clinical research on epilepsy’s underlying mechanisms and on experimental therapeutics. Center researchers are using electrophysiology, structural MRI and functional MRI to map seizure spread within the brain, observe seizure effects on structures involved in cognition, memory and language and develop methods for preventing seizure onset.