UW News

March 15, 2000

UW sponsors public forum on pediatric epilepsy

A free public forum on pediatric epilepsy will be sponsored by the University of Washington Pediatric Epilepsy Research Center.

It takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, at the UW’s Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st, Seattle. Parents of children with epilepsy are especially invited to attend.

The featured speaker is Dr. Gregory L. Holmes, professor of neurology and director of clinical neurophysiology at Harvard Children’s Hospital in Boston. A leader in the study of how seizures affect the immature organism, he has developed a number of models to analyze factors that may lead to seizures, and has studied the effects of repeated early seizures on brain structure and function, as well as on behavioral and cognitive capabilities.

The forum schedule includes the following:

3 p.m. Registration, reception and exhibits

4 p.m. What is Pediatric Epilepsy?

4:30 p.m. Insights into Pediatric Epilepsy and its Treatments
Dr. John Rho, assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics, and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center

5 p.m. Key Problems in Pediatric Epilepsy: What Research is Being Done?
Dr. Philip Schwartzkroin, professor of neurological surgery, UW

5:30 p.m. Workshop 1: Alternative Medical Approaches
Dr. Marcio Sotero, Kathy Adamski and Renee Williams, Children’s

Workshop 2: Psychosocial Issues in Childhood Epilepsy
Dr. Molly Warner, Dr. Hillary Shurtleff, Tim Humes and Patti Murphy, Children’s

Workshop 3: New Anticonvulsant Medications
Rho, Dr. Joseph Pinter and Dr. John Kuratani, UW Department of Neurology and Children’s

Workshop 4: Pediatric Epilepsy Research Center (PERC): Who We Are, What We Do
Schwartzkroin; Linda Jaech and Rhoda Altom, parents and co-chairs, PERC External Relations Board; Shari Ireton, program assistant

7 p.m. Reception

For more information, call (206) 221-5364 or email perc@u.washington.edu


The UW Pediatric Epilepsy Research Center (PERC) was established through joint efforts of the UW School of Medicine and parents of children with epilepsy. It draws on multidisciplinary expertise in neurosciences at the UW and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center. Its goal is to advance the understanding and treatment of pediatric epilepsies through basic laboratory and clinical research.

Dr. Philip Schwartzkroin, professor of neurology and biophysics, is PERC’s director for research; he is a past president of the American Epilepsy Society. Dr. Jong Rho, assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics and a clinician at Children’s, is co-director for translational research. Dr. Richard Winn, chair of neurosurgery, and Dr. Bruce Ransom, chair of neurology, serve as co-chairs of PERC’s advisory board.

The cornerstone of the center is development of major interdiscplinary research studies. With PERC support, scientists from several departments are investigating the mechanisms by which the keogenic diet — a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet — reduces frequency of seizures in some children with medically intractable epilepsy. In addition, PERC has awarded four grants for pilot projects to UW researchers studying other issues important for understanding epilepsy in the immature brain.


Epilepsy is a disorder consisting of chronically recurring seizures: sudden and unpredictable alterations of brain function associated with aberrant electrical activity. Seizures can result in uncontrollable movements, changes in memory, alterations in thinking and reasoning, and/or changes in consciousness.

Epilepsy can be triggered by a blow to the head, a brain tumor, stroke or infection. Genetics undoubtedly play a role in who develops epilepsy. For most people with epilepsy, however, the cause is unknown.

Approximately one out of 100 people suffers from epilepsy. The first signs are usually seen in childhood or adolescence.

Available medications provide significant seizure relief for 50 to 70 percent of people with epilepsy. However, many drugs have significant undesirable side effects. Surgery can help only a small fraction of individuals with medically intractable seizures. Basic research is the best hope for developing new and better approaches to prevent, treat, and cure epilepsy.