University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Epilepsy, Cognition, and Development Group

ECD Group Members

May 2015 behind Stafford Hall

Principal Investigators

Gregory L. Holmes, M.D.

GregPediatric neurologist and the Chair of the Department of Neurological Sciences who has both clinical and research interests in childhood epilepsy. He is widely published as a researcher focusing on the delineation, effects and treatment of pediatric/developmental epilepsy. In addition to being active in professional society and hospital committees, he has served on the editorial boards of 10 epilepsy and neurology journals and has been on multiple NIH study sections. Dr. Holmes has also reviewed grants from around the world including Canada, Israel, Australia, France, the UK and Belgium. He is the past president of the American Epilepsy Society and has received many honors including the American Epilepsy Society Research Award, Basic Science Award (1989), Pierre Gloor Research Award, American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (2001), Hoyer Lecturer, National Institutes of Health (2009) and Sachs Lecturer, Child Neurology Society (2009). Dr. Holmes is also the chief physician for Camp Wee Kan Tu, a camp for children with epilepsy. Developing therapy to prevent epilepsy has been a lifelong goal.

Rod C. Scott, M.D., Ph.D.

Rod Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Neurological Sciences, and Professor in Pediatric Neurology at University College London. My research interests relate to the characterization, mechanisms and treatments of convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) and brain damage/dysfunction associated with childhood epilepsy. The scientific questions that I have attempted to answer have all been predicated on important clinical problems with a view to translating my scientific findings back into clinical practice. I straddle the interface between basic and clinical science and have developed skills in both domains. My strategy is to use a variety of tools in disease models, epilepsy specific human cohorts and community based cohorts. I currently lead studies investigating; 1) the additional impact of early life seizures on cognitive impairments in rodents with malformations of cortical development (MCD), 2) the impact of environmental enrichment and spatial training on structural and functional outcomes of MCD, 3) Imaging VCAM-1 with MRI as a biomarker of brain injury following CSE, 4) long term outcomes of CSE in children and 5) structural and cognitive consequences of CSE in children. I currently split my time between UVM and UCL Institute of Child Health. Link to UCL Profile

Pierre-Pascal Lenck-Santini, Ph.D.

PepeAssistant Professor in the department of Neurological Sciences and Institut de Neurobiologie de la Mediterranee (INMED), INSERM, Marseille, France. My main interest is understanding the mechanisms by which organized neuronal activity supports brain function. First trained in cognitive neurosciences, I quickly became aware that fundamental sciences are just a hobby if we cannot use our knowledge to improve the human condition, particularly the condition of people with neurological disorders. Also, as illustrated by the description of HM case by Scoville and Milner, the pathological brain can provide precious information about the function of the healthy brain. Being part of the ECD group is therefore a fantastic opportunity to integrate clinical and fundamental sciences. My research interests are to understand 1) how complex information such as episodic, spatial or contextual information is encoded and organized in the brain; 2) the physiological and functional development of hippocampal networks and 3) How neurological disorders affect information processing, cognitive function and behavior. I focus today on the effects of epilepsy on cognitive development and support the notion that as a disorder of neuronal synchrony, epilepsy effects on cognition extend beyond the effect of seizures.

Matt Mahoney, Ph.D.

Matt Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences. I graduated from Dartmouth College with a PhD in Mathematics. I am currently interested in understanding computation in neural ensembles. My current research centers on building statistical models of single unit ensemble firing and relating these models to behavior and disease.

Matthew C. Weston, Ph.D.

WestonAssistant Professor in the department of Neurological Sciences. Fast synaptic transmission, mediated primarily by the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA, is the primary means of information transfer between neurons in the mammalian central nervous system. Recent genetic studies in humans indicate that as many as 75% of the mutations associated with severe childhood epilepsy syndromes are in genes whose protein products regulate synaptic transmission. I am interested in understanding how these genetic mutations ultimately lead to the development of epilepsy, with the idea that alterations in synaptic function play a key role in this process. To do this, I use genetic mouse models of epilepsy as a starting point. To investigate basic mechanisms (especially presynaptic) of neurotransmission in these models I combine patch-clamp electrophysiology with live and fixed imaging techniques of primary cultured neurons from various brain regions, and brain slice preparations to examine synaptic transmission in more intact circuits and its relationship to network activity. This includes 2-photon multicellular calcium imaging to examine the activity of normal and mutant neurons and how each population is recruited by evoked, spontaneous and epileptiform neural activity.

Jeremy Barry, Ph.D.

JDawg My name is Jeremy Barry, and I'm a Research Associate Professor in the department of Neurological Sciences. I’ve carved out a unique niche that bridges basic and translational science by employing a systems neuroscience approach to the origins of cognitive deficits that accompany pediatric seizures. The culmination of this work has been my formalization of the temporal coordination theory, which states that a network’s ability to dynamically organize cell activity relative to theta oscillations, both within and between relevant neural circuits, is necessary for normal cognition and is frequently disrupted as a long-term consequence of seizures experienced in early life. This theory is therefore of great relevance to basic scientists interested in the organization of spike timing in relation to cognition as well as translational scientists that are concerned with how neurological insults in early development affect cognitive outcomes. Apart from my success in both formulating and providing initial evidence for a new theory, I have become recognized for pushing the boundaries of technical limitations in neuroscience research. I was the first to formally characterize the electrophysiological properties of propagating action potentials along axons in freely moving animals, carried out pioneering work that suggests preempting transcriptional factor changes following pediatric seizures can improve cognitive outcomes, and have recently developed new tools for the simultaneous optical control and measurement of oscillations in the medial septum in order to effectively pace oscillations in both subfields of the dorsal hippocampus. My work with in vivo optogenetics is now serving as a foundation for multiple NIH grants that aim to further test the temporal coordination theory in spatial cognition and incorporate closed-loop optical interfaces with hippocampal circuit physiology in order to correct pathological spike timing changes caused by early-life seizures.

Postdoctoral Associates

Amanda Hernan, Ph.D.

Amanda My name is Amanda Hernan and I am a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Rod Scott. I graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in Psychology and a BS in Biology and then earned a PhD in Experimental and Molecular Medicine (Neuroscience focus) from Dartmouth. My postdoctoral project involves understanding how coordinated firing of neurons between and within networks in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are altered in a developmentally malformed brain. Using single unit and local field potential recordings during cognitive tasks that require careful cross-talk between these brain regions, I hope to understand the underlying network abnormalities leading to cognitive deficits. I was recently awarded an NIH transition to independence K22 award, which will allow me to pursue my own research interests in the role of neuropeptides, particularly melanocortin peptides, on improving cognitive outcome and underlying neural networks after early life seizures.

Willie Tobin, Ph.D.


Graduate Students

Willie Curry

Willie My name is Willie Curry, and I am a third year PhD student with Dr. Rod Scott in the NGP program at the University of Vermont. I earned my B.A. in Psychology at the University of Arkansas, and moved up to Burlington in 2013. Besides brain stuff, I love reading (mostly sci-fi and Edwardian/Victorian literature), video games, and all facets of Japanese culture. I also have an (un)healthy obsession with music; my ongoing projects include writing a rock opera, assembling a sound installation, and thinking of ways to be Pete Townshend.

Matt McCabe

McCabe My name is Matt McCabe, and I am a second year graduate student in the Weston lab. I graduated from University of Missouri in 2014 with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Political Science. I am primarily interested in the mechanisms by which emotional/arousal states modulate neural oscillations, and how that in turn affects memory and behavior. Outside the lab, I can be found hiking in the woods, playing on the soccer field, or (since moving to Vermont) out on the ski slopes.

Lab Techs

Caitlynn Barrows

CaitlynnMy name is Caitlynn Barrows and I am a Research Technician for the Weston group. I recently graduated from Western New England University with a degree in Neuroscience. My primary responsibilities are to assist the graduate students and Dr. Weston in their work by maintaining the mice colonies, ordering supplies, making solutions and assisting in cell culture. Outside of the lab I enjoy hiking and being outdoors.

Phil Mouchati

SylvainMy name is Phil Mouchati I am a research technician in the Holmes lab. I graduated from the University of Vermont in 2015 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. I will be utilizing optogenetic manipulation of the medial septum to elicit a change in theta oscillations within the hippocampus. How these changes in turn effect the learning and memory of a rodent during a spatial tasks is the question at hand. A few fun facts about myself: My favorite animal is the goat, my favorite color is green, and I love snow because I love to ski.

Greg Richard

Greg2 My name is Greg Richard and I am a Research Technician for the ECD group. I recently received my Master's degree in Biology from Florida State University where I studied the genes associated with the formation of memory. Prior to graduate school, I attended the University of Maine and obtained a degree in Psychology and Neuroscience. My responsibilities include conducting in vivo electrophysiological experiments and assisting lab personnel.


Tyra Martinez
Umesh Acharya
Anthony Spinella
Elise Prehoda

Past Investigators and Visiting Scientists

Andrew Massey - University of Bath undergraduate

Sean Flynn, PhD - Assistant Professor, UVM

Ben Duffy, PhD - Postdoc at Stanford

Olena Isaeva, PhD - Senior scientist, Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology

Dmytro Isaev, PhD - Senior scientist, Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology

Omar Khan, MD - Fellow at National Institutes of Health

Jon Kleen, MD, PhD - Neurology resident at UCSF

Ekrem Maloku, MD - Pathology resident at DHMC

Ali Titiz, PhD - Postdoc at UCLA

Qian Zhao, MD - Family Medicine Resident

Abby Alexander - Undergraduate at Bates College

Sofia Campos - Undergraduate at UCSD

Adam Jellett - University of Bath undergraduate

Kyle Jenks- PhD student at the University of Utah

Forrest Miller - Undergraduate at Columbia University

Murat Titiz - Undergraduate at the University of Vermont

Michael Onwukaeme (summer SNURF student from Howard University)

Greg Heller (summer SNURF student from Bates College)

Ben Blumberg

Alex Bender, PhD-Medical Student at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Rosa Cirelli, UVM undergraduate

Matias Page

Last modified September 18 2017 12:47 PM