Patrick A. Forcelli


Assistant Professor in Pharmacology

Ph.D., Neuroscience
Georgetown University, 2011
(202) 687-7825 


Current Research: 1. Vulnerability of the developing brain to drug induced damage - Anti-seizure medications (also called anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drugs) are the mainstay of treatment for epilepsy. However, the use of these medications in special populations (e.g., pregnant women with epilepsy, neonates with seizures) poses a challenge due to the exquisite sensitivity of the developing brain to perturbations of neural activity. Many commonly utilized anti seizure drugs induce apoptosis in the neonatal rat brain, disrupt functional and morphological synaptic development, and alter behavioral function. We are continuing to examine this class of drugs to characterize effects on brain development, identify mechanisms of toxicity and search for therapeutic approaches to minimize long-term effects. We employ a combination of histological, biochemical, physiological, behavioral and imaging approaches to address these questions.

2. Hippocampal and basal ganglia circuits in seizure progression. The same neural circuits through which seizures propagate are vital participants in normal cognitive and emotional function. We are examining hippocampal and basal ganglia contributions to both normal behavior and to seizure propagation. To determine the role of these circuits we are using a combination of lesions, focal pharmacological (in rodents and primates), electrical, and state of the art pharmacogenetic and optogenetic methods. These techniques are used to perturb circuit function during behavioral tasks as well as in animal models of seizures/epilepsy. Finally, we are also assessing the ability of shRNA-mediated knockdown of select targets within these circuits to delay or prevent the development of epilepsy. 

Selected Publications:

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