New look for Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Lab

Things might look a bit different at the Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Laboratory located at Baylor College of Medicine, but the work to understand epilepsy and its causes is still the focus.

The lab, generously supported by the Blue Bird Circle, underwent a remodel, creating a new work space for lab members.

A grand opening ribbon cutting was held last month with special guests – Blue Bird Circle volunteers who work tirelessly to raise funds that support the lab, its members and research and ultimately work to better the lives of those living with epilepsy.

Dr. Jeffrey L. Noebels, professor of neurology and director of the Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Laboratory, as well as Dr. Eli Mizrahi, chair of neurology at Baylor, and Rock Morelli, vice president of facilities services, led the tour through the newly renovated lab.

Lab members also discussed the work that the volunteers have helped to support through the years.

Under the leadership of Noebels, also the Cullen Trust for Health Care Endowed Chair for Neurogenetics at Baylor, researchers work to understand genes and mechanism underlying epilepsy and related neurological disorders. In 2009, researchers there discovered the first gene related to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, or SUDEP. Since then, a second gene also has been identified that affects both epilepsy and cardiac rhythm abnormalities. In 2016, researchers from this lab also identified how a mutation in a gene inside brain cells can trigger blackouts of the brainstem, the center that controls heartbeat and breathing, increasing the risk of sudden unexpected death.

Most recently Noebels and colleagues showed how nonconvulsive hippocampal seizures, first seen in mouse models in the laboratory, are the first signs of ‘silent’ brain electrical network dysfunction described in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (learn more here).

Noebels’ work not only focuses on research but also patient care and education. His lab has helped train countless neurologist, medical students and basic scientist through the years.

The Blue Bird Circle is an organization of women volunteers with the goal of improving the lives of children and their families  through community involvement and enrichment. They support other Baylor research groups, including the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital led by Dr. Robert Zeller, professor of pediatrics at Baylor, and the Blue Bird Circle Rett Center led by Dr. Daniel Glaze, professor of pediatrics at Baylor.

Visit the Blue Bird Circle’s website to learn more about other healthcare and research institutions they support.