The annual awards support research by U.S. scientists aimed at diagnosing, preventing and treating injuries or diseases of the brain or spinal cord. They are designed to help apply the knowledge achieved through basic research to clinical practice.
Tanouye's project, "neurological drug development using Drosophila seizure-suppressor mutants,” forcuses on development of a drug to treat epilepsy:
The anti-seizure drugs currently used to treat epilepsy are not effective with all forms of the disease, and many such drugs have serious side effects. Genetic medicine offers a possible alternative. Seizure-suppressor genes for epilepsy have been discovered recently, and some have the potential to lead to new drug compounds.
Using a new animal model developed in his lab for epilepsy, the fruitfly, Drosophila, Tanouye seeks to determine whether the newly discovered seizure-suppressor genes can lead to the development of novel anti-epileptic drugs, particularly those that would be effective in treating intractable epilepsy or would have fewer side effects than current treatments.