Dr. Sookyong Koh, MD, PhD
Dr. Koh is a pediatric neurologist with a clinical and research specialization in epilepsy. She is an Attending Physician at the Neurology and Epilepsy, Associate Director of Neurobiology Program at the Lurie Children’s Research Center and an Associated Professor of Pediatrics for the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her research is focused on the processes by which prolonged seizures in early life increase the risk for developing epilepsy later in life. With the funding from the MRJBF and other sources, Dr. Koh and her team aim to significantly improve treatment of epilepsy in children.
Her laboratory group has recently published work combining studies in human brain tissue of patients with epilepsy and bench research. The goal of this research is to find similar pathways of inflammation present in both studies supporting a link between inflammation and epilepsy. To further investigate this connection, Dr. Koh has developed a mouse model of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, which is characterized by prolonged febrile convulsions (FCs) followed by “second hit” kainic acid-induced seizures later in life. Using this “two hit” model of acquired epilepsy, she proposes to determine the causative role of inflammation and immunity in the development of epilepsy.
Her team will examine the efficacy of using anti-inflammatory drugs and environmental enrichment to block the epileptogenic effect of early-life FCs and will address the role of central nervous system-resident and peripheral inflammatory cells in the epileptogenic process using an animal model, such as mice and rats, and an analysis of the inflammatory cells. She will also examine the disease process in human cortical tissue obtained through epilepsy surgery.
With the support of the MRJBF she plans to extend her studies to evaluate and clarify the roles of innate and/or acquired immunity in the progression of epilepsy that begins in childhood. This research aims to show that anti-inflammatory therapy holds promise to significantly improve treatment of epilepsy in children.