Areas of Investigation

The Paz Laboratory is focused on discovering the mechanisms of neuronal synchronization, which is the simultaneous firing of neurons that produces brain “waves”. Neuronal synchronization is important for sensory coding and amplification of signals, but excessive synchronization can lead to epilepsy. Therefore, understanding the fundamental mechanisms of synchrony may lead to new interventions for epileptic disorders as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders involving altered neural synchrony.

While many antiepileptic drugs exist, they often have side effects and cannot fully suppress the highly disruptive and potentially fatal symptoms of the disease. Therefore, Paz’s team is exploring new strategies to block the epileptogenic loops that can emerge between the cortical and subcortical brain regions. Using rodent models, they were the first to develop an approach to detect and stop epileptic seizures in real-time by targeting one specific cell type in the brain. Using optogenetics, they discovered that inhibiting thalamocortical neurons is sufficient to stop epileptic seizures in various models, including post-stroke epileptic seizures and generalized seizures in genetic models of epilepsy, including absence-type epilepsies and Dravet syndrome. The group is also collaborating with clinical epileptologists to find biomarkers of epileptogenesis in genetic and acquired epilepsies.

Professional titles

Associate Professor of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco

Education

2002
BS
  • Cell Biology & Physiology
  • University Pierre et Marie Curie
2003
MS
  • Neuroscience
  • University Pierre et Marie Curie
2007
PhD
  • Neuroscience
  • University Pierre et Marie Curie

Honors and Awards

2015 Michael Prize
2013 Challenge Award, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy
2012 Pathway to Independence Career Award, National Institute of Health
2009 American Epilepsy Foundation Fellowship
2008 Best PhD in Neuroscience award in France (Prix de Thèse), French Society for Neuroscience
2007 Linus Pauling Graduate, University Pierre and Marie Curie
2005 Award for the best poster presentation in Neuroscience, 7ème Colloque de la Société des Neurosciences Française, French Society for Neuroscience
2003 Graduate Research Fellowship, French Ministry of Research and Technology
2002 Merit Scholarship, French Science Foundation, University Pierre and Marie Curie