UR Biology Professor Colleen Carpenter-Swanson Receives Grant Support for Research on Severe Epilepsy in Children

May 28, 2021

Colleen Swanson HeadshotUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Biology professor Colleen Carpenter-Swanson has been awarded $25,000 from the LGS Foundation for her research on Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a severe childhood-onset epilepsy.

Carpenter-Swanson uses zebrafish to investigate the genetic basis for comorbidities — when two or more diseases or medical conditions are present in a patient at the same time — associated with LGS. The conditions Carpenter-Swanson is looking at include cognitive impairment, social deficits, and motor dysfunction.

The goal of this project is for student researchers to develop and optimize methods to identify and characterize comorbidity traits in zebrafish models. They will also conduct drug screens to identify possible treatments. Zebrafish are ideal subjects for this type of research because they have similar genetics to humans and their small size and low cost make them attractive for drug discovery. 

"I am excited by the prospect of contributing to LGS research in a manner that can ultimately lead to improved treatments for patients,” said Carpenter-Swanson.

This is the second year of funding for this project, which will provide support for a part-time post-baccalaureate technician as well as funds for materials and supplies. The first year of funding was awarded through the University of California, San Francisco, where Carpenter-Swanson held a postdoctoral scholar position.

New to the University of Richmond, Carpenter-Swanson is the Coston Family Fellow in Molecular Biology and an assistant professor in the Department of Biology.

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The LGS Foundation's mission is to improve the lives of individuals affected by Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome through research, family support programs, and education.