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Gianpiero Cavalleri

I am a PhD student in Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri's group in RCSI. My research focuses on psychiatric co-morbidities of epilepsy.

People with epilepsy are at an increased risk for a variety of psychiatric conditions. For example, epidemiological studies have illustrated a 7-fold increase in the risk of schizophrenia, a 3-fold increased risk in depression, and a 5-fold increase in the risk of psychosis in people with epilepsy.

Despite such elevated prevalences in epilepsy, the genetic contribution to these co-morbidities remains largely unexplored. My research sets out to explore the role of common genetic variants in these co-morbidities. Through the use of analytical techniques such as polygenic risk scoring I am  seeking to determine if previously identified risk variants for a variety of psychiatric conditions are enriched in epilepsy patients who have the given psychiatric condition as a co-morbidity.

I am also researching the role of genetic variation in adverse drug reactions to the anti-epileptic drug levetiracetam. Roughly 13% of patients prescribed levetiracetam experience psychosis or behavioural disorders in response to drug treatment.  Through the use of exome sequencing, as well as GWAS and polygenic risk score analysis on patients who experience behavioural and psychotic side-effects to levetiracetam, I am aiming to explore the role of both rare and common genetic variation in these adverse drug reactions.

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