Amanda Hernan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Sciences
B.S., Biology, Case Western Reserve University, 2007
B.A., Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, 2007
Ph.D., Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Dartmouth College Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, 2013
September 2019-Present: Assistant Professor, Tenure Pathway, Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Vermont College of Medicine
I am a translational neuroscientist with interest in understanding neural network damage after early life seizures. My lab is interested in understanding how neuropeptide modulation of developing astrocytic and neural networks can protect
against deleterious long-term outcomes after early life seizures. Using single unit and local field potential recordings during cognitive tasks that require careful cross-talk between the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions (mainly
the hippocampus), my goal is to understand the underlying network abnormalities that lead to cognitive deficits in childhood epilepsy.
My work is poised to challenge a particular dogma of pediatric epilepsy treatment, namely that treating seizures is the only effective way to prevent deleterious cognitive outcomes. The potential findings of this research,
therefore, have huge implications for the way physicians treat epilepsy in children. My immediate research project seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying a neuropeptide-based intervention, using cellular, behavioral,
and network modeling techniques. This combination of approaches is designed to maximize the translatability of these results to other neurodevelopmental insults that affect cognition in children.
A particular strength of this work is that I will be able to observe neural networks, both at rest and during behavioral tasks, simultaneously in multiple brain regions subserving cognition using high-density neural probes and more conventional tetrode recording techniques. Traditionally, the hippocampus
has been the focus of study when looking at the effects of early life seizures on cognition. Since clinical evidence indicates that multiple neural networks are likely affected by generalized early life seizures, particularly
executive function networks of the PFC, I can extend this work by examining LFP and single-unit firing in the hippocampus and PFC simultaneously during tasks that require careful crosstalk between these structures.
There are currently very few, if any, pharmaceutical treatment options for executive dysfunction in epilepsy.
National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
2017-2019 NIH NINDS K22NS104230 (Phase I)
2019-2021 NIH NINDS K22NS104230 (Phase II)
PI: Amanda Hernan, PhD
Awards and Honors:
2006: Howard Hughes Baccalaureate Fellow
2005-2007: Dean’s High Honors, Case Western Reserve University
2011: Graduate travel award, Dartmouth College
2016: American Epilepsy Society Fellow
2018: Co-chair, Gordon Research Seminar on Mechanisms of Epilepsy and Neuronal Synchronization
Current Lab Members:
Tyra Martinez, AMP in Biology student
Anish Ali Sarkar, Lab Manager
Emily Tardie, UVM undergraduate
Jake Wagner, UVM undergraduate
Dominic Williams, UVM undergraduate
Andrew Massey, Undergraduate research intern, University of Bath (UK)
Laura Powers, Undergraduate researcher, UVM
Colin Villarin, Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellow/Honors Thesis Student, UVM