Our laboratory uses stem cell, molecular biology, neuroanatomical and electrophysiological techniques to study mechanisms underlying 1) epileptogenesis (the development of epilepsy), 2) adult neurogenesis, 3) brain repair and 4) SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy), the most devastating complication of epilepsy.
To model genetic epilepsies, we use patient-derived or CRISPR gene edited human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), cerebral organoids and also in vivo CRIPSR gene editing via in utero electroporation/viral vector injections in rodents. We apply electrophysiological analyses to 2-D and 3-D hPSC cultures, including multielectrode array recordings. We also study SUDEP mechanisms using patient induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cardiac myocytes. Separate from the laboratory, Dr. Parent directs the Human Stem Cell and Gene Editing Core to assist other laboratories in disease modeling with hPSCs.
To investigate the regulation and function of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, and the involvement of aberrant adult neurogenesis in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), we use genetically modified mice, rodent chemoconvulsant TLE models, viral birthdating and tracing techniques, and chemogenetic tools to interrogate brain function.
Our laboratory also studies adult neurogenesis and brain repair mechanisms using brain injury models in adult zebrafish, including lineage tracing and gene manipulation in transgenic zebrafish.
Our goals are to 1) elucidate mechanisms of brain development and epileptogenesis to develop precision therapies for rare genetic epilepsies; 2) advance knowledge about the role and regulation of neural stem cells in the adult vertebrate brain, and 3) to use this knowledge to devise brain repair strategies based on the manipulation of endogenous or transplanted neural precursors.