NEWS | October 20, 2020

Epilepsy expert selected as neurology department chair

Brooks-Kayal is a leader in research on novel seizure therapies


The UC Davis School of Medicine appointed internationally recognized neurologist Amy Brooks-Kayal professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Neurology, effective this month. She also will hold the department’s Andrew John Gabor, M.D., Ph.D., Presidential Chair in Neurology.

Amy Brooks-Kayal Amy Brooks-Kayal

Brooks-Kayal is known globally for her work as a neurologist and researcher who has led advances in epilepsy, pediatric neurology and neuroscience. Her research has identified cellular and molecular changes involved in the transition of the brain from normal to epileptic, with the goal of developing therapies that target that transition.

“Dr. Brooks-Kayal’s distinguished leadership and commitment to the academic missions of clinical care, education and neuroscience research have resulted in new therapies to improve the lives of people with neurological diseases,” said Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine. “Her leadership will enhance our neurology department’s considerable strengths in basic, translational and clinical neuroscience.” 

Brooks-Kayal was most recently chief of Pediatric Neurology, professor of Pediatrics, Neurology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and co-director of the Translational Epilepsy Research Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. For more than 20 years, she has led research focused on preventing seizures and associated cognitive changes. That research has been funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

“Dr. Brooks-Kayal has long been an international leader in neurology research, education and mentoring, and patient care,” said Nina F. Schor, deputy director of NINDS. “Her vision has guided her division at the University of Colorado and the many national organizations she has served to achieve success in improving the lives of patients and families who deal every day with neurological disorders. UC Davis is fortunate to have attracted her to this leadership position.”

Brooks-Kayal received her medical training at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She has held numerous leadership roles in the neurology, epilepsy and neuroscience research communities, including president of the American Epilepsy Society, member of the NINDS Advisory Council, chair of the National Institutes of Health, Clinical Neuroplasticity and Neurotransmitters review panel, and director of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

A respected mentor, Brooks-Kayal has been widely sought to train graduate students, post-doctoral trainees and junior faculty in epilepsy, pediatric neurology and neuroscience. She was the principal investigator on the Neurological Sciences Academic Development Award K12 at the University of Colorado, and currently is a co-director of the national NINDS K12 Child Neurology Career Development Program.

“What is unique about UC Davis School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology is its extraordinary breadth of expertise and its collaboration across all aspects of neuroscience ― from basic science to research developing new treatments to delivery of cutting-edge care to patients,” Brooks-Kayal said. “I look forward to continuing to expand these collaborative bridges in all facets of the department’s innovative and life-saving work.”

Dean Brashear thanked her recruitment committee, including co-chairs Satyan Lakshminrusimha, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Melissa Bauman, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, for leading the national search that led to Brooks-Kayal’s recruitment. She also offered special thanks to Charles S. DeCarli, professor of neurology and director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, for his leadership as interim chair of the neurology department.

The UC Davis Department of Neurology provides advanced care for neurological conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, movement disorders, tremor, dystonia, multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular conditions, headache and sleep disorders. The department faculty also leads investigations to improve the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. More information about the department's team, clinics and research is on the department website.