Dr. Joo Hyun Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Mingshan Xue who is a researcher at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute research at Texas Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, has received an early career grant and a postdoctoral fellowship award from the American Epilepsy Society (AES) to support her research and professional development activities. These fellowships are intended to support postdoctoral trainees conducting research into the causes, treatment and consequences of epilepsy under the guidance of a mentor with expertise in epilepsy research.
“We are in a very exciting phase of STXBP1-encephalopathy research and are testing potential gene therapies in model organisms. Joanne has already identified several key mechanisms underlying the disease, and this fellowship will support her to further advance the development of therapies for this disease.”
Kim is one of the eight postdoctoral awardees chosen by AES to receive this competitive fellowship. She was selected for her innovative research proposal to use rodent models to identify the molecular cause underlying and potential ways to treat STXBP1 encephalopathy, a rare neurodevelopmental condition characterized by abnormal brain function (encephalopathy) and intellectual disability. A majority of the affected individuals also have recurrent seizures (epilepsy). While the signs and symptoms of this condition typically manifest in infancy, in some individuals they can become evident later in childhood or early adulthood. In many affected individuals who have epilepsy, the seizures stop after a few years while other neurological problems remain unresolved. However, in some patients with STXBP1 encephalopathy, seizures continue to persist.
“Dr. Xue has supported me throughout the entire process and I’m very grateful for his superb mentorship and guidance. I’m thankful for this fellowship and excited by the new opportunities it provides us to further advance our understanding of the mechanisms involved in epilepsy which will eventually lead us to novel treatments for many patients who suffer from this condition.”
The American Epilepsy Society (AES) is a community of physicians, scientists, advanced practice providers, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, engineers, pharmacists, advocates, and other professionals engaged in the understanding, diagnosis, study, prevention, treatment, and cure of epilepsy and are one of the largest non-governmental funders for those starting careers in epilepsy research. In addition to AES, this postdoctoral research fellowship is also funded by several non-profit partners.