University of Southern California

USC Neuroscience

P. Elyse Schauwecker


Associate Professor, Department of Cell and Neurobiology, Keck School of Medicine
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy

Research Topics

  1. Molecular genetics and pathogenesis of epilepsy
  2. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of excitotoxic neuronal death

Research Overview

The general focus of my research program is on understanding the relationship between complex traits and genetic susceptibility to disorders of the central nervous system. The laboratory focuses on localizing and identifying genes that determine seizure-induced excitotoxic cell death susceptibility in an animal model of epilepsy. Previously, we had determined that resistance to seizure-induced excitotoxic cell death varies among commonly used inbred mouse strains, and some of this variation is assumed to have a genetic basis. Using these mice, we had previously identified three chromosomal regions or loci on Chrs 4, 15, and 18 that contain genes that influence susceptibility to excitotoxin-induced cell death in mice using genome exclusion mapping with DNA-based markers. Candidate genes are then isolated and characterized at both the DNA, mRNA and protein level to examine natural gene variation in cell death sensitive and resistant strains of mice. The identification of these epilepsy susceptibility genes may illuminate new pathways involved in epilepsy as well as hypoxia, stroke and other related pathologies, and could also lead to the identification of diagnostic biomarkers and potential gene therapies for early intervention.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Keck School of Medicine of USC
Department of Cell and Neurobiology
BMT 403
1333 San Pablo Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089-9112
Office Location:
BMT B-12
Office Phone:
(323) 442-2116
Lab Location:
BMT B-12
Lab Phone:
(323) 442-1225
(323) 442-3466


  • B.S., University of California, Irvine 1986.
  • M.S., University of Southern California, 1990.
  • Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1994.
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Virginia, 1994-1997.

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Selected Publications

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Schauwecker PE. (2011) The relevance of individual genetic background and its role in animal models of epilepsy.  Epilepsy Res. 97:1-11. -PubMed

Schauwecker PE. (2011) Strain differences in seizure-induced cell death following pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus.  Neurobiol Dis. 45:297-304. -PubMed

Schauwecker PE. (2011) Congenic strains provide evidence that a mapped locus on chromosome 15 influences excitotoxic cell death.  Genes Brain Behav. 10:100-110. -PubMed

Schauwecker PE. (2010) Galanin receptor 1 deletion exacerbates hippocampal neuronal loss after systemic kainate administration in mice.  PLoS One 5(12):e15657. -PubMed

Schauwecker PE. (2010) Neuroprotection by glutamate receptor antagonists against seizure-induced excitotoxic cell death in the aging brain.  Exp Neurol. 224:207-218. -PubMed

Kong S, Lorenzana A, Deng Q, McNeill TH, Schauwecker PE. (2008) Variation in Galr1 expression determines susceptibility to excitotoxin-induced cell death in mice.  Genes, Brain Behav. 7:587-598. -PubMed

McCord MC, Lorenzana A, Bloom CS, Chancer ZO, Schauwecker PE. (2008) Effect of age on kainate-induced seizure severity and cell death. Neuroscience 154(3):1143-1153. -PubMed

Lorenzana A, Chancer Z, Schauwecker PE. (2007) A quantitative trait locus on chromosome 18 is a critical determinant of excitotoxic cell death susceptibility. Eur J Neurosci. 25(7):1998-2008. -PubMed

Schauwecker PE, Williams RW, Santos JB. (2004) Genetic control of sensitivity to hippocampal cell death induced by kainic acid: a quantitative trait loci analysis. J Comp Neurol 477(1):96-107. -PubMed

Schauwecker PE. (2003) Genetic basis of kainate-induced excitotoxicity in mice: phenotypic modulation of seizure-induced cell death.  Epilepsy Res 55(3):201-210.