Fall 2017

Sit, stay, seizures

Ned Patterson with a furry patient.
Photography by Sue Kirchoff

Most humans and dogs with epilepsy keep their condition at bay with drugs, surgery, or medical devices. But in 30 percent of cases, the disease isn’t easily controlled. Ned Patterson, a U of M professor and veterinarian with a doctorate in genetics and epilepsy, has spent his career researching treatments for those who aren’t helped by conventional methods. 

“One of the hardest parts of epilepsy is the unpredictability,” says Patterson, who witnessed the disease’s impact on his aunt and his dog. “You’re fine 99 percent of the time, until you’re not.”

A world-renowned canine epilepsy researcher, Patterson has made significant contributions to treatments for members of both species. With College of Pharmacy scientists, he proved that a drug used for humans experiencing a life-threatening seizure emergency (multiple seizures in a row or seizures lasting 5 minutes or more) is also effective in canines. 

He is currently collaborating with Medtronic and Mayo Clinic on a device implanted in the canine or human brain that can predict seizures 30 to 90 minutes before they occur. 

Patterson credits the Harvey H. Hoyt Memorial Scholarship, which he received as a U of M vet student, with shaping his career. Because of the financial support, he was able to pursue academic medicine instead of going directly into veterinary practice, giving him the freedom to find new ways to help humans and their canine companions.