The 1990s

In 1992 Dr. Peter Williamson was recruited to Dartmouth College, his alma mater, to start an epilepsy center and Dr. John Ebersole was appointed to take his position as Director of the epilepsy unit at the VA. Dr. Williamson's third fellow, Dr. Vijay Thadani, who wrote important seizure semiology papers with Dr. Williamson (as had the previous fellows) went to Dartmouth with Dr. Williamson. (In 2004, Dr. Williamson's contributions were recognized when he was awarded the J. Kiffin Penry Award by the American Epilepsy Society.)

During this period, Dr. Susan Spencer began an epilepsy fellowship at the Yale-New Haven Hospital unit. In addition, Dr. John Ebersole had clinical neurophysiology/epilepsy fellows. Dr. Dennis Spencer also often had a neurosurgery/epilepsy fellow for a year of training. Many of these trainees have gone on to lead other programs around the country.

Dr. Richard Scheyer continued as a fellow after residency at Yale and brought special pharmacokinetic expertise to the team before leaving in the late 1990's. He contributed to a number of studies of antiepileptic drugs including monitoring of intracerebral pharmacology using microdialysis in epilepsy patients. As can be seen, the Yale Epilepsy Center was a fertile training ground for future leaders and practioners in epilepsy. In the late 1990's, Dr. Ebersole was recruited to develop an epilepsy program at the University of Chicago. About the same time, closure of the neurology bed service at the VA led to a closure of the epilepsy monitoring unit and all clinical activity was done at YNHH.

By then, the Yale Epilepsy Unit had grown to six adult and two pediatric monitoring beds. Dr. Edward "Rusty" Novotny headed up the pediatric epilepsy unit and was later joined by Drs. Susan Levy, M.D. and Francine Testa, M.D.

The equipment was periodically upgraded as technology advanced to allow automatic electronic spike and seizure detection. The epilepsy surgical team was able to incorporate the very latest other diagnostic methods including PET, SPECT, and fMRI, as well as the established surface and intracranial EEG, neuropsychological assessment and carotid amytal testing.

During these years, three separate NIH program projects were ongoing. Dr. Mattson and co-investigators inherited one of the first NIH epilepsy program projects begun by Dr. Gilbert Glaser in 1966. The PPG was always a mix of basic science and clinical research in what might now be viewed as translational research. During the decade of the 90's, he led one set of projects looking at the role of GABA in epilepsy using basic lab methods of AED mechanisms coupled with complimentary studies in humans using intracerebral microdialysis pioneered by Drs. Matthew During and Dennis Spencer. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy was also begun in human epilepsy patients for the first time, measuring changes in cerebral GABA, in collaboration with Drs. Douglas Rothman and Ognen Petroff. Dr. Dennis Spencer led another NIH Grant focused on the surgical pathology and pathophysiology of pre and post operative tissue study also using these methods. Dr. Susan Spencer initiated another multi-center NIH supported project of surgical outcome.

This clinical research, carried out together with patient care, led to Drs. Richard Mattson, Dennis Spencer and Susan Spencer separately being recognized with the prestigious American Epilepsy Society/Millken Clinical Research Award, the only institution with as many awardees.

In the late 1990's, Dr. Robert B. Duckrow, the Director of the UCONN epilepsy program and an Alumnus of the Yale residency program, was recruited to bring special expertise in neurophysiology and electronic methods to the program. He now supervises an advanced program in neurostimulation.