Neurology Research

Our multidisciplinary team of physician-scientists conducts various research projects to help promote patient care and better educate families. We hope our research efforts will improve treatment for children with hard-to-treat neurological disorders. Learn about our latest clinical trial, the SMA Biomarker Study, which is currently recruiting participants.

Researchers in the Division of Neurology and their collaborators in other divisions at Lurie Children’s and at other universities across the U.S. conduct epidemiological, translational and basic laboratory research targeting a wide range of conditions that cause injury or death of brain cells (neurons). The objective of this research is to find new therapies to prevent neural tissue injury. This field is often referred to as "neuroprotection."

Leon G. Epstein, MD, is engaged in the study of the impact of viral infections on the developing nervous system. Currently we are investigating the role of Human Herpesvirus 6, and 7 (HHV-6 and HHV-7) as potential causes of hippocampal injury during febrile status epilpepticus (FSE). Dr. Epstein is a co-investigator and the study neurovirologist for the 15-year National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke (NINDS) funded multicenter longitudinal FEBSTAT study of 200 children with FSE. To date we have found that HHV-6B is the most common cause of FSE in children accounting for nearly 30% of the infants that present with FSE.

This longitudinal study will allow us to determine if FSE caused by HHV-6B or HHV-7 is more likely to result in mesial temporal sclerosis and temporal lobe seizures. Intractable temporal lobe seizures are the most common reason for epilepsy surgery in adolescents and young adults. If HHV-6B or HHV-7 prove to be responsible for hippocampal damage it is possible that the injury could be prevented by treatment with anti-viral or anti-infammatory medications at the time of presentation with FSE.

Mark Wainwright, MD, PhD, Attending Physician in the Division of Neurology, is also an Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Wainwright's laboratory research focuses on glial responses to acute brain injury, particularly the role of astrocytes in the mechanisms of blood brain barrier dysfunction and epilepsy following traumatic brain injury. His current clinical research studies are investigating outcomes following severe traumatic brain injury, neurologic complications of acute liver failure, management of status epilepticus and new therapy for stroke in children.

Learn more about our clinical studies and researchers below.

First Treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy to be Submitted for FDA Approval

A major milestone was reached when nusinersen, an investigational treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), was shown to significantly improve achievement of motor milestones in babies with infantile-onset SMA. Lurie Children’s had the highest patient enrollment in the study.

Learn more.

​Pediatric Neurology Briefs

Pediatric Neurology Briefs is an Open Access (OA) continuing education service designed to expedite and facilitate the review of current scientific research and advances in child neurology and related subjects. Many of our physicians are contributors. 

Visit the publication's website to learn more.