UW News

February 10, 2005

Catterall receives McKnight neuroscience award to study ion channels and epilepsy

The molecular basis for epilepsy in a mouse model is the target of UW research funded recently by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience. The project is one of six in the nation that are part of a $1.8 million grant package by the fund.

Dr. William Catterall, professor and chair of pharmacology, was one of the winners of this year’s Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Awards. The award includes a three-year, $300,000 grant. The McKnight Endowment Fund awards support research aimed at translating basic science discoveries into clinical therapies.

Catterall studies one type of epilepsy: severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy. It causes children to develop seizures in their first year of life, and then motor problems and mental retardation.

Catterall will use the grant to study ion channel genes and proteins in the mouse brain to determine the changes brought on by epilepsy, and what effects those changes may cause. He hopes to use the knowledge to create drug therapies to prevent seizures.

In addition to the Neuroscience of Brain Disorders awards, the endowment fund also gives out the annual McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Awards, and the McKnight Scholar Awards, which support neuroscientists early in their careers.