Dr. James Eubanks received his BSc from the University of California, Davis, before going on to receive his Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology in 1991 from the University of California, San Diego. He completed two postdoctoral fellowships in Molecular Neurobiology; the first at Duke University, and the second at the University of Toronto before joining the Krembil Research Institute (Krembil) as Scientist in 1994. He later became a Senior Scientist within the Genetics and Development Research Division, a position he has held from 2001 to present.
He is currently Professor at the Division of Neurosurgery and the Division Head of Genetics and Development at Krembil Research Institute (Krembil). His research interests include the influence of epigenetic factors on neuronal function, with a particular emphasis on Rett syndrome. He is an Advisory Board member for both the International Rett Syndrome Foundation and the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association. In 2012, he received the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association’s Award of Merit for his dedication to studying Rett syndrome.
Industry Expertise (6)
Areas of Expertise (8)
Ontario Rett Syndrome Association’s Award of Merit (2012) (professional)
In 2012 Dr. Eubanks was honoured with the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association’s Award of Merit for his dedication to studying Rett syndrome.
University of California, San Diego: Physiology and Pharmacology, Ph.D. 1991
- University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program : Advisory Board Member
- Research Space Committee : Chair
- Scientific and Community Contact Committee Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario : Member
Media Appearances (1)
Rett Syndrome Research News
The Ontario Rett Association online
An article highlighting the significant research on Rett Syndrome conducted by Dr. Eubanks and his team at Krembil Research Institute (Krembil).
26 October 2015
Cortical network hyper-excitability is a common phenotype in mouse models lacking the transcriptional regulator methyl-CPG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2). Here, we implicate enhanced GABAB receptor activity stemming from diminished cortical expression of the GABA transporter GAT-1 in the genesis of this network hyper-excitability. We found that administering the activity-dependent GABAB receptor allosteric modulator GS-39783 to female Mecp2+/− mice at doses producing no effect in wild-type mice strongly potentiated their basal rates of spontaneous cortical discharge activity. Consistently, administering the GABAB receptor antagonist CGP-35348 significantly decreased basal discharge activity in these mice. Expression analysis revealed that while GABAB or extra-synaptic GABAA receptor prevalence is preserved in the MeCP2-deficient cortex, the expression of GAT-1 is significantly reduced from wild-type levels. This decrease in GAT-1 expression is consequential, as low doses of the GAT-1 inhibitor NO-711 that had no effects in wild-type mice strongly exacerbated cortical discharge activity in female Mecp2+/− mice. Taken together, these data indicate that the absence of MeCP2 leads to decreased cortical levels of the GAT-1 GABA transporter, which facilitates cortical network hyper-excitability in MeCP2-deficient mice by increasing the activity of cortical GABAB receptors.
Stroke is the leading cause of seizures and epilepsy in the aged population, with post-stroke seizures being a poor prognostic factor. The pathological processes underlying post-stroke seizures are not well understood and studies of these seizures in aging/aged animals remain scarce. Therefore, our primary objective was to model post-stroke seizures in aging mice (C57 black strain, 16–20 months-old), with a focus on early-onset, convulsive seizures that occur within 24-hours of brain ischemia. We utilized a middle cerebral artery occlusion model and examined seizure activity and brain injury using combined behavioral and electroencephalographic monitoring and histological assessments. Aging mice exhibited vigorous convulsive seizures within hours of the middle cerebral artery occlusion. These seizures manifested with jumping, rapid running, barrel-rolling and/or falling all in the absence of hippocampal–cortical electrographic discharges. Seizure development was closely associated with severe brain injury and acute mortality. Anticonvulsive treatments after seizure occurrence offered temporary seizure control but failed to improve animal survival. A separate cohort of adult mice (6–8 months-old) exhibited analogous early-onset convulsive seizures following the middle cerebral artery occlusion but had better survival outcomes following anticonvulsive treatment. Collectively, our data suggest that early-onset convulsive seizures are a result of severe brain ischemia in aging animals.
18 March 2014
Rett syndrome is a severe pediatric neurological disorder caused by loss of function mutations within the gene encoding methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2). Although MeCP2 is expressed near ubiquitously, the primary pathophysiology of Rett syndrome stems from impairments of nervous system function. One alteration within different regions of the MeCP2-deficient brain is the presence of hyper-excitable network responses. In the hippocampus, such responses exist despite there being an overall decrease in spontaneous excitatory drive within the network. In this study, we generated and used mathematical, neuronal network models to resolve this apparent paradox. We did this by taking advantage of previous mathematical modelling insights that indicated that decreased excitatory fluctuations, but not mean excitatory drive, more critically explain observed changes in hippocampal network oscillations from MeCP2-null mouse slices. Importantly, reduced excitatory fluctuations could also bring about hyper-excitable responses in our network models. Therefore, these results indicate that diminished excitatory fluctuations may be responsible for the hyper-excitable state of MeCP2-deficient hippocampal circuitry.
In September of 2011, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF) and the Rett Syndrome Research Trust (RSRT) convened a workshop involving a broad cross-section of basic scientists, clinicians and representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the pharmaceutical industry and private foundations to assess the state of the art in animal studies of Rett syndrome (RTT). The aim of the workshop was to identify crucial knowledge gaps and to suggest scientific priorities and best practices for the use of animal models in preclinical evaluation of potential new RTT therapeutics. This review summarizes outcomes from the workshop and extensive follow-up discussions among participants, and includes: (1) a comprehensive summary of the physiological and behavioral phenotypes of RTT mouse models to date, and areas in which further phenotypic analyses are required to enhance the utility of these models for translational studies; (2) discussion of the impact of genetic differences among mouse models, and methodological differences among laboratories, on the expression and analysis, respectively, of phenotypic traits; and (3) definitions of the standards that the community of RTT researchers can implement for rigorous preclinical study design and transparent reporting to ensure that decisions to initiate costly clinical trials are grounded in reliable preclinical data.