The 2019 Michael-Prize was awarded to
Brain and Spine Institute
ICM, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital
PhD Stéphanie Baulac
Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
Dr. Birgit Frauscher
Stéphanie Baulac is a group leader at the Brain and Spine Institute (ICM, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris). She was awarded by the French Foundation for Research in Epilepsy (Prize Valérie Chamaillard, 2014) and is laureate of the European Research Council consolidator award (2016). Currently, her main research interests are dedicated to unveil the pathogenic mechanisms underlying focal epilepsies with malformations of cortical development.
As a graduate student in neurogenetics (Paris University, 1998-2001), her main discovery was the identification of two epilepsy genes, SCN1A and GABRG2, with major clinical impact for genetic diagnosis. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in Boston (2002-2005) to investigate the cellular mechanisms of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases.
Her independent career launched in 2005 when she obtained a tenure position of researcher at Inserm and investigated Lgi1-related focal epilepsies by means of significant rodent models, notably during her sabbatical at Kyoto University (2010). She also participated to numerous genetics studies in the frame of the EPICURE/EuroEpinomics consortia.
Recently, her team contributed to the identification of a novel gene, DEPDC5, a repressor of the mTORC1 signaling pathway, opening novel perspectives in the epilepsy field (Ishida et al 2013). Her current projects aim at elucidating the role of brain somatic mutations in focal cortical dysplasias (FCD) and assessing how the mTOR cascade contributes to epileptogenesis and seizures.
The MICHAEL-PRIZE acknowledges Dr. Stéphanie Baulac for pioneering work on the identification of brain somatic second-hit mutational mechanisms in DEPDC5-related epilepsies, and the characterization of a focal and mosaic mouse model of Depdc5-deficiency recapitulating features of epilepsy associated with FCD (Baulac et al. 2015; Ribierre et al. 2018).
Dr. Birgit Frauscher is an epileptologist and Associate Professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University. She did her medical training, residency and subspecialisation in neurophysiology, epilepsy, and sleep at Innsbruck Medical University (Austria), and obtained her board certification in neurology in 2008. From 2013 to 2015, she was awarded a two-year Schrödinger fellowship to spend a visiting professorship at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University to specialize on intracranial EEG. Her lab’s research interest is in the development of novel non-invasive and invasive seizure-independent EEG markers for the epileptogenic zone in order to achieve a more accurate identification of the epileptic focus, with the ultimate goal to improve the functional and seizure outcomes of epilepsy surgery. She is the author of more than 130 peer-reviewed papers with an H-index of 38. Her research was awarded with the European Young Investigator Award of the International League Against Epilepsy in 2018, a “Chercheur‐boursier clinicien Junior 2” salary award of the Fonds de la Recherche du Québec – Santé 2018-2021, and the Ernst-Niedermeyer Prize of the Austrian Epilepsy Society in 2015.