There can be no progress against epilepsy without research. The OHSU Epilepsy Center has gained a national reputation for its innovative research on the causes and treatments of seizure disorders.

Our clinical research program offers patients with difficult-to-control seizures the opportunity to try the latest medicines and other new therapies, which otherwise are not available. Our patients, in turn, help others by contributing to progress against seizure disorders. As an example, the OHSU epilepsy center was a pilot center for the vagus nerve stimulator, the first physiologic treatment proven effective against seizures. OHSU patients had the opportunity to use this therapy for nearly a decade prior to FDA approval and commercial release, while helping to establish a therapy now used by thousands of patients around the world. We are currently involved in studies looking at other advanced forms of electrical stimulation to terminate seizures. Our center has participated in clinical trials of several antiepileptic medications that are now marketed or being considered for marketing.

OHSU epilepsy researchers also are studying the effects of common antiepileptic drugs on memory, seeking the safest long-term treatments for children and adults. Scientists from our team are developing new quantitative MRI methods for discovering subtle abnormalities of brain structure that can cause epilepsy. These advances in MRI allow us to identify in some patients small abnormalities present from birth that can be surgically removed. Improved MRI techniques lead to safer, more effective epilepsy brain surgery, and for some, seizure freedom. International attention is focused on our basic research laboratory as it examines the NMDA receptor, a critical link in understanding seizure origination.