Meet Prof. Mark Cunningham, Funded Investigator in Trinity

Prof. Mark Cunningham has just joined FutureNeuro as a Funded Investigator. We asked him a few questions about his work and what he will be bringing to the centre.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am the Ellen Mayston Bates Professor of Neurophysiology of Epilepsy  at Trinity College Dublin. My position is funded through a large philanthropic donation, given by Ellen Mayston Bates upon her death. I studied at Queen’s University, Belfast where I read Physiology as an undergraduate and I obtained my PhD in Physiology from the University of Bristol. After that, I worked in Bristol University, University of Leeds, Heidelberg University and Newcastle University.  In 2005  I was awarded a RCUK Academic Fellowship at Newcastle University. In 2007 alongside Prof. Miles Whittington I founded the first UK research platform for conducting electrophysiological recordings from live human brain tissue ex vivo in Newcastle with support from the Wolfson Foundation. In 2016 I was appointed as Professor of Neuronal Dynamics at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and I currently hold a visiting Professorship at Newcastle University.

What will you be doing in FutureNeuro?

In collaboration with Eisai Ltd., I will lead a funded project to gain a better understanding of medication dosage levels for people with epilepsy. This work will be done in collaboration with colleagues at RCSI and the Beaumont Hospital and will help strengthen the electrophysiological element of the centre.

How did you become interested in this type of research?

I have a long-term interest in excitatory neurotransmission in the brain. My PhD focused on understanding the impact of a number of commonly used anti-convulsant drugs on both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in the central nervous system. My early post-doctoral studies extended this work and used similar approached to examine the impact of two novel anti-convulsants. During my post-doctoral career I also examined cortical network oscillations associated with health and disease. As part of this work I undertook studies that explored the contribution of a specific type of glutamate receptor (AMPA receptor) to neuronal network dynamics. 

What do you hope to achieve/ What will the benefit be for people with a neurological disease?

I want to help to better inform the dosing regimens used in clinical practice. Determining optimum dosage levels for drugs can help clinicians to choose the lowest possible dosage level for someone with epilepsy and can help to counteract any adverse effects, leading to a better quality of life

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