Lab Members

Jerome Engel, Jr., MD, PhD, is Director of the UCLA Seizure Disorder Center, The Jonathan Sinay Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Neurobiology, and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and a member of the Brain Research Institute at UCLA. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, his advanced degrees from Stanford University, and completed his training in neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Engel is past president of the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (ACNS), the American Epilepsy Society (AES), and the International League against Epilepsy (ILAE), and is past co-chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Campaign against Epilepsy. His bibliography lists over 1,000 publications and over 30 books, including the definitive Epilepsy: A Comprehensive Textbook, Seizures and Epilepsy, Surgical Treatment of the Epilepsies, and The Treatment of Epilepsy. He is principal investigator on two research grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and has received numerous awards and honors, including a Fulbright Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Javits Award from the NINDS, and the ILAE Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Bragin received his bachelor from Ural University (Ekaterinburg, Russia) and PhD and D.Sci from Institute of Biophysics (Puschino, Russia). He did his postdoctoral research with Gyuri Buzsaki at Rutgers University. Dr. Bragin’s research interests focus on studying mechanisms of epileptogenesis. For this purpose, we are using chronic animal models of epilepsy to characterize interictal and ictal high frequency oscillations with respect to localization in mesial temporal structures, to identify laminar sites of origin of these oscillations within different brain areas. The research focuses primarily on defining alterations in the properties of pHFO-generating neuronal clusters responsible for transition to different types of seizure onset in epileptic rats, using double silicon probes. The current RO1 is devoted to investigation of another biomarkers of epileptogenesis using combination of MRI and electrographic approaches.

In 2002, Richard Staba received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from UCLA in the laboratoriesof Charles Wilson, Ph.D. and Jerome Engel,Jr. M.D., Ph.D. where he investigated the spatiotemporal properties of high frequency oscillations and single neuron firing patterns in mesial temporal structures of patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. He did his postdoctoral research training with Daniel Barth, Ph.D. at the University of Colorado in Boulder studying the neurophysiology of vibrissa stimulation-evoked fast network oscillations in non-primate somatosensory cortex. In 2005, he joined the UCLA faculty as Assistant Professor and is currently Associate Professor in Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Staba's research focuses on the mechanisms supporting the generation and spread of seizures, post- traumatic epilepsy, and the neurophysiology of sleep.

Lin is a Researcher faculty in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His long-term research interests involve the development of effective biomarkers of epileptogenesis using multi-modality approaches. He has established a track record of over 20 scientific publications in brain imaging, electrophysiology, biostatistics, and epilepsy research. He has also contributed as a reviewer for many peer-reviewed papers in 13 different international scientific journals. He has a total of ten presentations/posters at international conferences and invited talks.

Uday Kumar is a Research Staff and the Manager of Seizure Disorder Laboratory. He obtained his M.Sc. in Applied Genetics from Bangalore University, India and Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Neurobiology from the University of Madras, India. His postdoctoral research was in the laboratory of Prof. Raman Sankar, M.D., Ph.D. at UCLA Pediatrics Neurology, where he was actively involved in research focused on brain inflammation, epilepsy, and their comorbidities. His research elucidated some new, key findings on the role of inflammatory cytokines and neurotransmitters in impaired social behavior and epilepsy. Dr. Uday Kumar is an active member of many prestigious neuroscience associations. He has also been invited to review the research articles for many international journals. His research in Seizure Disorder Laboratory focuses on identifying biomarkers for post-traumatic epilepsy, aimed at finding a therapy for epilepsy.

Cesar Santana-Gomez is a Postdoctoral Scholar fellow in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research is focus on finding non-invasive EEG biomarkers that could be used to predict post traumatic epilepsy following lateral fluid percussion injury in a rodent model. Cesar's research is part of the larger EpiBioS4Rx project.

Gregory Smith, Ph.D.

Greg’s background is in Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience. He received a BS in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas in 2008 and a MS in Biotechnology from Northwestern University in 2009. Greg then went to Baylor University and received a PhD in Biomedical Studies in 2016 while studying epilepsy and its comorbidities using both induced and genetic rodent models. Greg’s current research with mentors Dr. Neil Harris and Dr. Rick Stabba at UCLA focuses on finding biomarkers that could be used to predict post traumatic epilepsy following lateral fluid percussion injury in a rodent model. Greg's biomarker work is a part of the data collection for the larger EpiBioS4Rx project. Greg will be utilizing EEG, MRI, and other molecular and behavioral techniques. In his free time Greg enjoys traveling, skiing, cooking, and hiking.

Brian K Rundle, Ph.D.

Brian received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience in 2017 from Baylor University under Jim Patton, Ph.D. He joined UCLA in 2018 as a post-doctoral research fellow and is working on the EpiBios4Rx research consortium, studying pharmacological interventions in post- traumatic epilepsy. His long term research interests include pharmacological interventions in neurological disorders and physiology. His previous work has focused on pharmacological treatments of impulsivity and explosive aggression in human clinical populations, antisocial behavior, and the philosophy of consciousness. Outside of lab, Brian is a certified personal trainer, accomplished woodworker, and outdoorsman.

Charbel Bou Khalil

Charbel is fourth-year biology major at UCLA. His overarching research focus centers around investigating novel biomarkers of epileptogenesis by applying computational data analytics, and has particular interest in how a systems neuroscience and connectomics framework can inform us about the underlying mechanisms mediating epilepsy. Charbel has taken the lead as an EEG reader as part of the EEG-BOLD coupling in epileptogenesis project. He is concurrently learning the principles of fMRI data processing and will be involved during his gap year in our clinical research project in collaboration with a pediatric hospital. Charbel applies the critical thinking and analysis skills he developed through the biomedical research minor by assisting with the literature review and manuscript writing process. Charbel’s goal is to serve as a pediatric neurologist, and he aims to be involved in clinical research as a physician to help improve prognosis for infants and children with epilepsy.

Hanwen Wang

Hanwen is a third year undergraduate Biology student at UCLA. Her research work focuses on data analysis in the Blood Oxygen Level Dependent fMRI project based on traumatic brain injury in rat models. Besides her research, she also designed and maintained the webpage of the laboratory. She hopes to further explore the mechanisms behind epileptogenic development through the experience in the laboratory and will be applying to public health school soon.

Lily Dermendjian

Lily is a third year Biology student at UCLA. Her research focuses on understanding epileptogenesis post traumatic brain injury (TBI) through brain wave (EEG) analysis in rodents. She is also interested in literature and plans to apply to medical school soon.

Ava Mousavi

Ava is a fourth year undergraduate Psychobiology student at UCLA. She finds the brain fascinating and has been doing research on how traumatic brain injury induces seizures in rat models and analyzing the effects of different craniotomy procedures. In addition to research, Ava is passionate about promoting health equity and justice and will be applying to medical school soon.

Dimpy Wraich

Dimpy is a fourth year Psychobiology student at UCLA. Her research focus is the prevalence of epileptic seizures 6 months post TBI, through the analysis of EEG data. She serves as the Internal President of the American Medical Student Association, where she creates opportunities for undergraduate students to interact with and understand the medical field. She is also part of United Sikh Mission, which focuses on providing free eye care to individuals within rural parts of India. She plans to apply to medical school this upcoming cycle in the hopes of ultimately becoming a surgeon.

Julia Yuan

Julia is a fourth year Physiological Sciences student at UCLA. Her research work focuses on the detection of high frequency oscillations (HFOs) as a biomarker for post-traumatic epilepsy in TBI-induced rat models. In addition to research, Julia is involved in community health outreach and illustrative art, and will be attending medical school next year.

Harshini Muthukumar

Harshini Muthukumar is currently pursuing a Neuroscience and Computational Systems Biology double major at UCLA and is planning to graduate by Spring 2020. Post-graduation, Harshini plans to attend medical school and become a surgeon. Her current research area of focus in the Epilepsy Research laboratory is aiming to understand the mechanisms of epileptogenesis post-traumatic brain injury (TBI) by investigating brain signals (EEG) in rodent TBI model. Harshini also works with UCLA Housing Services, is involved in the American Red Cross, and tutors children around LA with Project Literacy. Harshini loves spending time with family and watching movies in her free time. Supervisor: Dr. Uday Kumar

Kailash Ram

Kailash Ram is currently pursuing his B.S. in Neuroscience, Computational and Systems Biology at UCLA with a concentration in Neurosystems. He plans on joining a medical school after completing his degree. Kailash’s current research area of focus in Seizure Disorder Laboratory is to understand the processes of epileptogenesis post traumatic brain injury (TBI). He participates in research meetings, animal experiments, behavioral studies, and brain wave (EEG) analysis. He is also the president of Leadership Education in Algebraic Development (LEAD), a student-run tutoring organization at UCLA. In addition, he is the Outreach Director for the Mental Health Initiative at UCLA and a Curriculum Director for Kids Korner at UCLA. He loves community service and health fairs. In his free time, he likes to go on hikes and nature walks. Supervisor: Dr. Uday Kumar

Isabella Shahmirza

Isabella Shahmirza is currently pursuing her B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology with a Minor in Global Health at UCLA. Isabella is aiming to pursue a Master’s in Public Health as well as attend medical school after completing her degree. Isabella’s current research area of focus in Epilepsy Research Laboratory is to understand the processes of epileptogenesis post-traumatic brain injury (TBI). She participates in behavioral studies and brain wave (EEG) analysis. Isabella is also involved with Together Educating and Advocating Community Health (TEACH), works for undergraduate admissions as a Bruin Ambassador and is the UCLA’s Campus Ambassador for CanCan- a breast and ovarian cancer health education organization. Isabella enjoys spending time with her family and friends, loves to play sports, especially basketball, and enjoys exploring the outdoors either at the beach or going on hikes. Supervisor: Dr. Uday Kumar

Grace Ji

Grace Ji graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor's of Science in Human Biology. Through her various experiences as an undergraduate and postgraduate, Grace's personal interests in neuroscience, quality improvement, and research are what led her to join the lab in order to further understand the processes of epileptogenesis post- traumatic brain injury. She aims to be involved in the healthcare field for her career choice. Meanwhile, in her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending quality time with family and friends. Supervisor: Dr. Uday Kumar

Yusrah Ishtiaq

Yusrah Ishtiaq is currently pursuing her B.S in Biology at UCLA. Post-graduation, she aims to work in a health-related field. Her current research area of focus in Epilepsy Research laboratory is to understand the processes of epileptogenesis post-traumatic brain injury (TBI). She participates in behavioral studies and brain wave (EEG) analysis. Yusrah is also involved with the Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences (CEILS) as an Undergraduate Learning Assistant and works for Senior Class Committee (SCC) to help fundraising efforts for present and incoming Bruins, as well as helps spread mental health awareness through the promotion of Resilience in the Student Experience (RISE). In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, dancing, hiking, and watching basketball. Supervisor: Dr. Uday Kumar


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