Professor Gavin Woodhall, Aston University

I have been working in the field of epilepsy research since the early 1990s. My laboratory focuses on how epilepsy gets started and then becomes established in the brain, a process we call epileptogenesis.

I started my career as a scientist with a degree in Biochemistry at Southampton University, before doing a PhD in Neuroscience with Professors Howard Wheal and John Chad, also at Southampton. I moved from there to study the hippocampus at the Université de Montréal, with the Prof Jean-Claude Lacaille. Following this, I moved to the University of Bristol to work on epilepsy in the entorhinal cortex (a bit of brain that is ‘around the corner’ from the hippocampus) with Professor Roland Jones. Finally, in 2004 I took up a lectureship at Aston University, where I have been ever since and where I now co-direct the Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment (IHN), run a degree course (in Neuroscience) and work in my lab.

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In the lab we are currently studying how the connections between brain cells change in response to epileptic seizures and, in collaboration with GW Pharma and colleagues over at New York Medical School, working out how cannabis-based drugs are able to stop seizures from happening.

One of our main projects is to record electrical activity from brain cells taken from children with difficult to treat epilepsy, so that we can test drugs directly in human brain from people with epilepsy.

There is a lot of epilepsy research going on at Aston’s IHN, and I work closely with Dr Sukhvir Wright (Aston and Birmingham Children’s Hospital) on autoimmune epilepsies, with Dr Stuart Greenhill (Aston) on tissue culture in epilepsy and with Prof Stefano Seri, Mr William Lo and Mr Richard Walsh (Children’s Hospital) on human epilepsy tissue.

I am working with THE VOICE FOR EPILEPSY, and we hope to increase people’s awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and support people with epilepsy across the Midlands.