Birmingham professor awarded prestigious Fellowship

Professor John Terry
Professor John Terry

Professor John Terry, Director of the Centre for Systems Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine at the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Modelling, has been awarded a prestigious Established Career Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The award will allow John’s research, which focuses on the accurate diagnosis, prognosis and management of epilepsy, to advance understanding and treatment of the serious brain condition. Epilepsy causes recurrent seizures in susceptible individuals and affects almost 1% of the UK population at some point in their lives.

In this 5 year fellowship, Professor Terry will develop mathematical models and computer algorithms to improve our understanding of how seizures occur. These models will describe how different regions of the brain interact with each other and how internal and external stimuli can influence these interactions. The interplay between neural activity within brain regions and the connections between regions critically determines whether seizures can occur and how frequently they are likely to happen. Working with clinicians, Professor Terry will use electrical brain recordings collected from people with epilepsy to inform the models. By building personalised models, key questions for people with (suspected) epilepsy can be addressed, including:

  • is the diagnosis accurate?
  • are the drugs being prescribed effective?
  • will exposure to stress make seizures more likely?
  • can I know when my seizures are most likely to happen?
  • will surgery stop my seizures happening?

Working with a software engineer and people with epilepsy, Professor Terry will translate this understanding into prototype tools to address these questions. Co-designing and developing these prototypes with people with lived experience and clinicians will maximise the likelihood of their leading to impact of the fundamental research.

Professor Terry is an Interdisciplinary Professorial Fellow: a post he holds jointly across Mathematics, Computer Science and the Institute for Metabolism and Systems Research. John’s research transcends traditional discipline boundaries speaking to mathematics, computer science, physics, biology, biomedical and clinical sciences.

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