Kevin J. Staley
Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Unit Chief, Pediatric Neurology, Mass General Hospital Department of Neurology
Kevin Staley received his MD degree from the University of California, San Diego. He completed his postdoctoral research training at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr Staley studies neuronal ion transport in neonatal seizures and neural network dysfunction in epilepsy. He has served as Chair of the Investigator's Workshop Committee and the Research and Training Committee of the American Epilepsy Society, as Chair of the Research Council of the Epilepsy Foundation of America, as co-chair of the inaugural Gordon Conference on Mechanisms of Epilepsy and Neuronal Synchronization, and as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience.
He is currently the Chief of Pediatric Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Child Neurology and Mental Retardation, Harvard Medical School.
Our long-term research goal is the development of new approaches to the treatment of epilepsy based on a clearer understanding of the necessary steps in seizure initiation and propagation.
The two major themes in the lab are neuronal ion transport and the spread of activity in neural networks. Neuronal ion transport underlies signaling at all fast synapses. The importance of neuronal ion transport was underscored by our recent discovery that reversed ion transport in the immature brain was blocking the effects of the anticonvulsants most commonly used to treat neonatal seizures, and that a safe and well-characterized diuretic could ameliorate this condition.
Our work on the spread of excitation in neural networks combines fluorescent imaging of network activity with computerized analysis and modeling to understand how normal and abnormal signaling progresses through neural networks. We have found evidence for reentrant or circular patterns of neural activity that resemble cardiac fibrillation and precede seizures. We are currently testing whether this reentrant activation of neural circuits is the earliest stage of a seizure, and the stage at which intervention is most effective. We are also testing whether long-term reductions in the strength of synaptic connections between neurons in epileptic networks can reduce the probability of seizures.
A study led by MassGeneral Hospital for Children investigators is providing new insight into the mechanism of neonatal seizures, which have features very different from seizures in older children and adults.