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INI funds Junior Research Programs of Excellence

The Iowa Neuroscience Institute has awarded two grants to support early-career faculty members pursuing research in epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disease. Brian Dlouhy, MD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, and Aislinn Williams, MD, PhD, will each receive $300,000 over two years to support their research.

These awards, called Junior Research Programs of Excellence, provide a base of support from which faculty members can lay the necessary groundwork for obtaining major national funding, including grants from the National Institutes of Health. “These awards funded by the Roy J, Carver Charitable Trust to outstanding junior faculty, reflect our commitment to developing the careers of faculty in the Iowa Neuroscience Institute,” said Ted Abel, Director of the INI and interim chair of Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology.


Brian J. Dlouhy, MDBrian Dlouhy, MD, assistant professor of neurosurgery
Forebrain control of breathing

Dlouhy’s research seeks to understand the mechanisms behind breathing impairment during and after seizures, a critical risk factor for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy - the most common cause of death in patients with chronic refractory epilepsy. His previous work found that when seizure activity spreads to the amygdala, it can induce apnea and oxygen desaturation. Using both animal models and human epilepsy patients, his work seeks to identify individuals at risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, define the amygdala-brainstem pathway that causes seizure induced loss of breathing, and develop new circuit-based interventions with already approved drugs or novel neurosurgical techniques.


Aislinn Williams, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry
Voltage-gated calcium channels in developmental models of neuropsychiatric disease

Williams uses both animal and human models to study the mechanisms by which alterations in genes at the earliest stages of brain development increase risk for psychiatric disease, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Her work aims to unravel how genes are changing during development and how these changes affect adult brain function. Identifying the developmental pathways involved in neuropsychiatric disease may lead to novel treatment targets.




Psychiatric and neurological disorders are devastating to individuals, their families, and society. These disorders account for nearly one-fifth of all disability leading to ill health or early death worldwide, more than any single category of disease. Created with a transformational $45 million grant to the UI from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the Iowa Neuroscience Institute seeks revolutionary discoveries in fundamental neuroscience to translate an understanding of how the brain works into clinical treatments for disorders of the brain and nervous system.

Monday, June 10, 2019