Brain and Epilepsy Alliance for Metabolism research (BEAM)

Principal Investigator

Research Priority Area

  • Neuroscience

Summary

A breakdown in brain metabolism, the process by which the brain converts nutrients into the energy it needs to function, can result in many different diseases. Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, for example, are all related to changes in brain metabolism.

Researchers seek answers to the question of how brain metabolism goes awry and how those malfunctions give rise to disease. But one of the important challenges involves drawing together specialists who have the most experience with the wide array of diseases that result, since most work is done separately and in very different fields.

With the support of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Research Alliance Initiative, Brain and Epilepsy Alliance for Metabolism research (BEAM) has gathered an interdisciplinary team to research how changes in brain metabolism affect and are affected by disease.

Matthew Gentry, PhD, professor, department of molecular and cellular biochemistry, joins Bret Smith, PhD, chair, department of neuroscience, to lead BEAM. Dr. Gentry serves as director of the Lafora Epilepsy Care Initiative, and Dr. Smith leads the Epilepsy Research Center. Their expertise in their own separate yet compatible fields makes them an ideal pair to direct an interdisciplinary team of 24 senior and junior faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Medicine, and the College of Pharmacy.

So far, BEAM has leveraged Alliance support to acquire sophisticated lab equipment, fund 15 pilot projects, and establish an epilepsy brain tissue biobank critical to research. BEAM members have already initiated electrophysiology and metabolomics experiments based on the biobank project, and plans to expand it are underway. To date, the BEAM principal investigators have been awarded nearly $15 million in external research funding. The ultimate goal is to discover treatments that return brain metabolism to normal function.

Alliance Members

  • Doug Andres, PhD, Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Adam Bachstetter, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neuroscience
  • Bjoern Bauer, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Pharmacy
  • Meriem Bensalem Owen, MD, Professor – Department of Neurology
  • Eric Blalock, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences
  • Brian Delisle, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Physiology
  • John C. Gensel, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Physiology
  • Matthew S. Gentry, PhD, Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Dong Dan Han, PsyD, Chief – Department of Neurology
  • Lance Johnson, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Physiology
  • Siddharth Kapoor, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
  • Chintan Kikani, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Arts and Sciences
  • Zabeen Mahuwala, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
  • Sally Mathias, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
  • Deb McGrath, Executive Director – Epilepsy Foundation for Kentuckiana
  • Brandon A. Miller, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurosurgery
  • Farhan Mirza, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurosurgery
  • Chris Norris, PhD, Professor – Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences
  • Bruce O’Hara, PhD, Professor – College of Arts and Sciences
  • Fred Odago, MD, Resident – Department of Neurology
  • Jim Pauly, PhD, Professor – College of Pharmacy
  • Thomas Pittman, MD, Professor – Department of Neurosurgery
  • Clare Rittschof, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  • Kathryn Saatman, PhD, Professor – Department of Physiology
  • Frederick Schmitt, PhD, Professor – Department of Neurology
  • Ashley W. Seifert, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Arts and Sciences
  • Maj-Linda Selenica, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Anthony Sinai, PhD, Professor – Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
  • John Slevin, MD, Regular Faculty – Department of Neurology
  • Bret Smith, PhD, Chair and Professor – Department of Neuroscience
  • Pat Sullivan, PhD, Professor – Department of Neuroscience
  • Ramon Sun, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neuroscience
  • Sridhar Sunderam, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Ryan Temel, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Physiology
  • Olivier Thibault, PhD, Professor – Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences
  • Craig Vander Kooi, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Qingjun Wang, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Rachel Ward-Mitchell, RN, Program Coordinator – Department of Neurology
  • Tritia Yamasaki, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
  • Ruta Yardi, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Neurology
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