The UCLA Seizure Disorder Center, established in 1961, is a world leader in epilepsy investigations. Clinical and basic neuroscientists carry out research at all levels of investigation, ranging from genetics and cellular physiology to public health and outreach to developing countries. Local community neurologists can control seizures in many patients; however, when seizures continue and interfere with work, school, or interpersonal relationships, despite two clinical trials of anti-seizure medications, the attention of a team specializing in the treatment and management of epilepsy is necessary. The multidisciplinary clinical team in the UCLA Seizure Disorder Center can diagnose overlooked, treatable conditions; establish reasons for treatment failure; offer alternative treatments, such as neuromodulation, surgery, diet, experimental anti-seizure drugs, and behavioral therapy; and provide psychological and social support services.
A major effort of the Seizure Disorder Center faculty is to promote early referral of patients who continue to have disabling seizures after clinical trials of two anti-seizure drugs have failed. Less than one percent of patients with medically refractory (uncontrolled) seizures are referred to epilepsy centers. For those who are referred, it is on average more than 20 years after the onset of epilepsy. For these patients who have had disabling seizures for so long, their vocational and interpersonal skills are too often irreversibly compromised. Even when the UCLA epilepsy team is able to eliminate seizures for this patient population, many remain dependent on their family and society. Therefore, early referral offers the best opportunity to avoid a lifetime of disability and premature death.
Seizure Disorder Center faculty have held leadership positions in all the relevant national and international organizations. Research by Seizure Disorder Center investigators has been continuously funded by the NIH, as well as private foundations, since 1961, and investigators have been the recipients of many prestigious awards. In addition, the faculty of the UCLA Seizure Disorder Center mentor graduate students and basic science postdoctoral fellows.
The UCLA Adult Epilepsy Program serves as the central point of clinical and basic research for the Seizure Disorder Center. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient EEG monitoring and outpatient services within the UCLA Department of Neurology, and harnesses advancements in instrumentation, techniques, and the latest clinical and basic brain research to provide a world-class comprehensive program. Together with colleagues in other departments, including radiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, and neurosurgery, the program includes an initial patient assessment to establish revised diagnoses and institute new therapies. Faculty in the program also pursue fundamental research to develop new therapies to treat, prevent, and cure epilepsy. The UCLA Adult Epilepsy Program annually trains three clinical fellows in epilepsy, many of whom have become leaders in the national and international epilepsy community.
An important part of the UCLA Seizure Disorder Center is the Neurobehavioral Epilepsy Program. It provides an interdisciplinary bridge between the Department of Neurology and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The program comprises a neuropsychologist, a psychiatrist, neurologists, an epilepsy clinical nurse specialist, and a licensed marriage and family therapist. With the goal of providing comprehensive care for patients with epilepsy, non-epileptic seizures, and a combination of the two, the program focuses on the person as a whole and the associated psychological and social issues that surround living with a seizure disorder, such as the fear of suffering a seizure while at work that may result in job loss.