Pablo Casillas-Espinosa

Dr

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

- Are spike-wave discharges biomarkers of the development of epilepsy after traumatic brain injury?
- Biomarkers of epileptogenesis and epilepsy disease progression
- Drug repurposing in neurological disorders
- Evaluating novel therapies to prevent post-stroke epilepsy and associated neurological impairments.
- Finding cures for epilepsy using stem cells and pre-clinical models.
- Genetic and molecular determinants of temporal lobe epilepsy - a translational investigation
- High-frequency oscillations as biomarkers of ictogenesis and epileptogenesis
- Investigating the role of a Cav3.2 calcium channel mutation in contributing to the epileptic phenotype using congenic rat strains
- Neuropharmacological strategies for disease modification and prevention of the development of epilepsy

20112024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Biography

Dr Casillas-Espinosa is a Lab Head in the Neuroscience Department in the School of Translational Medicine at Monash University and an NHMRC Early Career Fellow.

Dr Casillas-Espinosa was trained as a medical doctor (MD) at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, before moving to Australia to study his PhD with Prof Terence O'Brien at the University of Melbourne.

He has an impressive track record at this stage of his career with multiple publications and international presentations, many of which relate to the preclinical development of new epilepsy therapies and chronic animal models. He is an emerging leader in the field of epilepsy, biomarkers and drug development within just four years of the completion of his PhD (Top 0.50% Worldwide Epilepsy Experts, expertscape.com).

His Lab group focuses on finding novel disease-modifying treatments and targets of brain diseases using multi-omics and computational approaches. Dr Casillas-Espinosa's group uses a wide range of models of epilepsy, stroke and traumatic brain injury, from molecular and cellular assays of neuropathology to neurobehavioural assessments and advanced neuroimaging techniques (MRI, DTI, PET).  

Dr Casillas-Espinosa has successfully obtained competitive grants, resulting in high-impact publications and one patent (PCT/US2017/000097), and ongoing clinical trials of novel therapies.

Dr Casillas-Espinosa has a growing international reputation, evidenced by his increasing number of international competitive prizes, awards, and invited talks. He is involved in invitation-only committees of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), and is the Global Secretary of the Young Epilepsy Section of the ILAE.

Supervision interests

Are spike-wave discharges biomarkers of the development of epilepsy after traumatic brain injury?
Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) is a recurrent seizure disorder due to brain injury following physical trauma. PTE accounts for 20% of symptomatic epilepsy in the epilepsy population of 65 million worldwide. Clinical treatment requires determining patients with a high risk of acquiring epilepsy after traumatic insult to prevent and control the occurrence of seizures.

Biomarkers of epileptogenesis and epilepsy disease progression
A biomarker is an objectively measured characteristic of a normal or pathologic biological process. The development of novel interventions to treat, cure, and prevent epilepsy would benefit greatly from the identification and validation of such biomarkers.

Drug repurposing in neurological disorders
Current therapies for epilepsy are symptomatic, only suppressing the symptoms (seizures), but do not impact the development or progression of disease. Many groups around the world, including ours, are testing novel therapies to impact epileptogenesis, intervening very early in epilepsy development to limit the severity of disease, with some preclinical success.

Evaluating novel therapies to prevent post-stroke epilepsy and associated neurological impairments.
Stroke is the second leading cause of death and the leading cause for disability worldwide. Acute stroke is caused by a blockage of one of the arteries in the brain resulting in interrupted blood supply. Brain cells deprived of oxygenated blood die rapidly unless blood supply is restored, causing irreversible damage. Post-stoke epilepsy is one of the most debilitating consequences of acute stroke and the most common form of acquired epilepsy in adults.

Finding cures for epilepsy using stem cells and pre-clinical models.
The cEEG and Stem Cell Laboratory in the Department of Neuroscience are investigating new treatments for a class of patients that do not respond to mainstream anti-seizure medications (ASMs). Our laboratory has created patient-derived neurons for the purpose of creating an in vitro disease model to test the efficacy of these potentially life-changing novel ASMs.

Genetic and molecular determinants of temporal lobe epilepsy - a translational investigation
Acquired epilepsy is the most common form of drug resistant acquired epilepsy in adults, where seizures continue to occur despite antiepileptic drug treatment. Importantly, acquired epilepsy is believed to usually be acquired resulting from some sort of brain insult. However, not all the patients that suffer a brain insult develop epilepsy. The genetic determinants that lead to development of acquired epilepsy in these patients has not been fully understood.

High-frequency oscillations as biomarkers of ictogenesis and epileptogenesis
Epilepsy is a severe neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures that affect 1% of the population worldwide. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the primary cause of the acquired epilepsy that 16% of severe TBIs can develop to post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE). The biomarkers that can objectively indicate the epileptogenesis and ictogenesis of the brain tissues are critically crucial for clinical treatments to prevent seizures and the development of PTEs.

Investigating the role of a Cav3.2 calcium channel mutation in contributing to the epileptic phenotype using congenic rat strains
Absence seizures, one of the most common seizure types in humans with genetic generalised epilepsy (GGE), are generalised non-convulsive events characterised by recurrent episodes of staring with unresponsiveness. Absence seizures most commonly affect children and adolescents who can experience hundreds of seizures per day and if left untreated can lead to disruptions in learning.

Neuropharmacological strategies for disease modification and prevention of the development of epilepsy
Current therapies for epilepsy are symptomatic, only suppressing the symptoms (seizures), but do not impact the development or progression of disease. Many groups around the world, including ours, are testing novel therapies to impact epileptogenesis, intervening very early in epilepsy development to limit the severity of disease, with some preclinical success.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Molecular and Genetic Determinants of Acquired and Genetic Epilepsies, University of Melbourne

20132017

External positions

Senior Research Fellow, Department of Neurology, Alfred Health

2022 → …

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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