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How One Woman’s Experience with Epilepsy Led to a Career in Neuroscience

Christin Godale’s interest in the brain started when she was diagnosed with epilepsy as a young girl. She went on to study neuroscience and research epilepsy for her PhD at the University of Cincinnati. Despite experiencing up to 30 seizures a day and suffering from cognitive impairments, Godale persevered and is now involved in the Society for Neuroscience and Cure Epilepsy. She has dedicated her life to bringing awareness to epilepsy and advocating for increased federal funding for neuroscience research.

In this episode of Tales from the Synapse, a podcast series produced in partnership with Nature Neuroscience, we hear from Christin Godale about her journey, her patient advocacy work, and her tips for early career researchers. She encourages networking while in graduate school and emphasizes the importance of breaking down stigmas associated with neurological disorders.

Godale explains that epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, affects approximately 50 million people worldwide. While the exact cause is unknown, seizures and epilepsy result from abnormal brain activity and can be genetic or acquired through head trauma, infectious diseases, stroke, or tumors. While 70% of people with epilepsy can control their seizures with medicine or surgery, the remaining 30% are unable to achieve seizure freedom with available treatments.

Godale experienced various types of seizures throughout her life, and her condition severely impacted her quality of life, friendships, and graduate school experiences. She even spent periods in a coma after experiencing status epilepticus, a seizure episode that does not stop and can lead to cell death in the brain. Despite the difficulties, Godale was inspired by her child neurologist, who gave her some of his neuroscience textbooks to read during an extended hospital stay. This moment changed her life and inspired her to pursue a career in neuroscience.

Godale’s personal experience with epilepsy drives her patient advocacy work and research, and she encourages early career researchers to prioritize networking and patient advocacy. By bringing awareness to epilepsy and breaking down stigmas, Godale hopes to improve the experiences of the next generation.




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