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Dr Roland Jones
Dr Roland Jones

Press Release - 18 May 2005

Bath epilepsy researcher given top honour

A University of Bath scientist has been invited to give a lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand as part of a prestigious award in recognition of his work on epilepsy.

Dr Roland Jones, Reader in Neuropharmacology in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, has been invited by a panel of judges from the British Pharmacological Society to become the 2005 Rand Anglo-Australian Visitor.

Dr Jones will leave for Australia in November 2005 and will give a series of research seminars in universities in Australia and New Zealand - ending in December with a plenary lecture at the largest annual meeting of pharmacy and pharmacology researchers in the southern hemisphere.

The award is named after leading Australian pharmacologist, the late Professor Mike Rand, and helps maintain links between Australian and British universities by selecting scientists to take part in exchanges between the two countries in alternate years.

“To be invited to act as the 2005 Visitor is a singular honour, which reflects the high international standing of Dr Jones' research”, said Professor Chris Garland, Head of Pharmacology at the University.

“I am delighted to have been selected for such a prestigious award”, said Dr Jones, who spent three years working in Australia earlier in his career.

“It will be a good opportunity to catch up with former colleagues, and make new contacts that will help strengthen the University’s links with overseas.”

After academic appointments in Oxford and Bristol, Dr Jones brought his research group to Bath last year. His research focuses on the area of the brain, known as the cortex, which is associated with higher brain functions such as thought and motor activity. He is looking at how activity in the nerve networks of the cortex allow the brain to process information.

In an epileptic seizure large numbers of nerve cells in the networks become over-synchronised and start doing the same thing at the same time, known as hyper synchronisation. It then becomes impossible for the brain to process information and, as a result, the person loses control over thought and movement.

“As with many areas of pharmacology, we know that the drugs currently used in the treatment of epilepsy work, but we don’t know exactly how they work", said Dr Jones, who is also looking at the function of current epilepsy treatments as part of his research.

“We are looking at the key mechanisms in the brain that underlie epilepsy so that we can provide information to help design new drugs that stop hyper synchronisation from occurring, and help patients with epilepsy manage their condition.”

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