Lab Canada

Canada’s first research chair in pediatric epilepsy is appointed

Halifax, NS – Dr Michael Esser has been appointed to Dalhousie University’s William Dennis chair in pediatric epilepsy research. Dr Esser, a pediatric neurologist and pharmacologist, will help to achieve a greater understanding of epilepsy and reduce the stigma attached to the disorder. The university says it is the first chair of its kind in Canada.

“My goals are twofold,” said Dr Esser. “One is to establish a basic science research program looking at potential factors contributing to epilepsy in children; in particular, I am interested in perinatal factors that may increase the predisposition towards the development of epilepsy. The second goal is to increase public awareness and education surrounding epilepsy.”

Halifax’s Dennis family, owners of Nova Scotia’s largest daily newspaper, the ChronicleHerald, made a gift of $2.3 million to endow the chair in honour of William Dennis who died of complications relating to an epileptic seizure in August 2002. An additional $1.2 million was secured from other donors toward the total funding of $3.5 million for the chair, which is located in Dalhousie’s department of pediatrics at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. Dr Esser also holds a cross-appointment in the Dalhousie department of pharmacology.

Dr Esser completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. After a stint in the Canadian Navy as a naval officer, he completed a masters, PhD, and doctor of medicine degree at Dalhousie University and a residency in pediatric neurology at the University of Calgary and the Alberta Children’s Hospital.