We are delighted to hear all the positive feedback from our inaugural issue of Insight, our e-newsletter. Here we are introducing our second edition to you with some insight on starting your year off right!
At FACES, our goal is to make 2012 the best year yet as individuals and as a community. We are dedicated to make our e-newsletters, website, Facebook and events more inviting and supportive. Our new website is continually being updated with educational and patient resources, but a focal area for 2012 is to expand the research section to represent the world-renowned success of our medical team here at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.
With the New Year underway, our 12th annual GALA is upon us and will be held on March 6th. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show will host as Master of Ceremonies; Auction prizes are better than ever and we are graciously accepting new ones, so please reach out to us to help reach our goal to support the mission of FACES.
We are so grateful to all our supporters. Hope to see many of you at the Gala this year.
Wishing everyone a prosperous and healthy 2012.
Medical Spotlight on Dr. Judith Bluvstein
Interviewed by Timothy McGorry, Medical and Nutrition Reporter
Dr. Judith Bluvstein, MD, specializes in Pediatric Epilepsy and practices general Pediatric Neurology at the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center (CEC). Additionally, she is Co-Director of NYU Dravet’s Center, an author of several book chapters on Pediatric Epilepsy, and an Assistant Professor of Neurology at New York University School of Medicine.
Dr. Bluvstein is conducting research in several clinical studies for anticonvulsant agents. Her areas of interest include epilepsy in children with autism, reflex and myoclonic epilepsies, genetic diseases of the nervous system, hypotonia, and treatments for patients with neurometabolic disorders.
Q. Where did you grow up and initially acquire medical training?
A: I’m originally from Argentina and came to the U.S. after graduating from medical school. I completed my residency in Pediatrics at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, my Pediatric Neurology fellowship and Clinical Neurophysiology fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, NY) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. I joined CEC in 2009.
Q: What was the catalyst for your becoming a doctor and, in particular, treating children and young adults with epilepsy?
A: I was exposed to the medical world at an early age. My father is a pediatrician and Dean of one of Argentina's most renowned medical schools. My fascination with the brain and in helping young people treat brain disorders also came early on. I volunteered at an Argentinean children's hospital for neurological and cardiovascular disorders (FLENI) as a medical student. By age 24, I had spent a few months at UCLA, where I first learned of the surgical approach to controlling epilepsies. These experiences, in addition to my work at the children's hospital at Montefiore's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, reinforced my desire to become a pediatric epileptologist.
Q: What research initiatives have you been involved with at CEC/NYU?
A: I’m particularly interested in the treatment of epilepsy in patients with underlying neurometabolic disorders, which are rare and overlooked by many general practitioners. The right dietary supplement and/or dietary modifications can change or decelerate the course of the condition. I’m very involved in helping patients with Dravet's syndrome, a type of epilepsy with an underlying mutation of sodium channels. At the NYU Dravet's Center, we provide care utilizing a multidisciplinary approach through the collective help of neuropsychologists, nurses, nurse practitioners and a nutritionist with special training in the epilepsy diet treatments, as well as social workers.
Additionally, I’m involved in a multidisciplinary study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the "Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project" (EPGP), trying to gather information that could potentially lead to a genetic therapeutic cure. I’m very interested in the relationship between genetics and epilepsy.
Q: Why have you chosen to focus on neurology and epilepsy?
A: The brain is a complex organ and possibilities of therapies are amazing. Treating epilepsy in particular can be challenging at times, but it’s extremely rewarding. But reducing seizures is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s satisfying to know that successful treatment can improve other realms of a patient’s social life, academics, self-esteem, and more.
Q: What do you enjoy most and find rewarding about being a doctor at CEC?
A: I feel blessed to work at the CEC. The center has a tremendous amount of smart talent including dedicated nurses, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists and epileptologists. The center offers a rare and wonderful combination of minds with a common goal: to help the patient in a multidisciplinary way through the collective teamwork of talent highly skilled across different complementary disciplines. I love to see young patients get better and able to play, go to school and just being kids!
Q: What advice do you have for caretakers of individuals with epilepsy and seizures?
A: There is a lot that a caretaker can do for a child or young adult with epilepsy. One of the most important things is to help and take care of a child without doing it in a way whereby the young person becomes too self-conscious about his or her disorder. This task can be very challenging at times; it’s particularly hard to keep a child safe while being able to "let go" as in puberty and adolescence.
Q: What do you see as great hopes of finding cures for various forms of epilepsy?
A: I’m absolutely optimistic that cures and other dramatic strides will soon come. Even now we can cure many cases with appropriate surgery. Genetic therapy theories and research look very promising, as do intracranial devices that work as "pacemakers" or eventually deliver anticonvulsant agents directly into the brain.
To contact Dr. Judith Bluvstein, please call 646-558-0808