Dang Nguyen, Ph.D.

Epileptic engineering: From Basic Neurophysiological Mechanisms to Closed Loop Intervention Devices

Epileptic patients suffer from recurrent seizures characterized by transient manifestations due to excessive neuronal discharges, reminiscent of an electrical storm in the brain. Seizure manifestations may range from subtle sensations to dramatic life-threatening convulsions depending on the location, intensity and propagation of the discharge within distinct epileptic brain networks. The first line of treatment is the use of antiepileptic drugs but a third of patients are drug-resistant, up to half have poor adherence, and side effects are frequent.  For drug-resistant patients, epilepsy surgery and neurostimulation may be considered but success rates remain modest notably due to limitations of current techniques to accurately delineate the epileptic focus and network.

In this keynote presentation, Dr. Nguyen will provide a brief overview of epilepsy, explain current challenges and unmet needs in the management of epileptic patients, and how the field of engineering is uniquely positioned to answer them: machine learning algorithms to improve interpretation of multimodal (clinical, neurophysiological and neuroimaging) data and help in decision making, implantable bio-sensors to improve drug monitoring and adjustments, quantitative connectivity approaches to characterize epileptic networks, tailor seizure onset zone localization and predict surgical outcome, seizure anticipation strategies (i.e. seizure detection and prediction) that could be implemented in closed-loop devices for advisory/intervention purposes.


Dang Nguyen headshotDang K. Nguyen completed his medical school and neurology residency at the University of Montreal, epilepsy fellowship at Yale University, and PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Montreal. He is currently an associate professor of Neuroscience at the University of Montreal, a neurologist-epileptologist at the University of Montreal Hospital Center (CHUM) and a regular researcher at the CHUM Research Center. He is also a fellow of the American Epilepsy Society, the president of the Canadian League against Epilepsy and holder of a CIHR Canada Research Chair in Epilepsy. Funded by the CIHR, NSERC and FRQS, Dr Nguyen’s research focuses on novel techniques of neuroimaging and neurophysiology used to facilitate clinical diagnosis, to identify biomarkers of epilepsy, and to understand the bioengineering mechanisms at work in epilepsy, with the hope of interfering with the uncontrolled electrical process.