Tim Benke, MD, PH.D.

Dr. Tim Benke is the Ponzio Family Chair in Neurology Research and Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Neurology, and Otolaryngology at University of Colorado School of Medicine.

His lab studies the function of synapses, the primary means of communication between neurons in the brain. Discoveries include mechanisms for synaptic changes that are likely associated with learning and memory. Research is directed at discovering how synapses change with development and following seizures. Our results are specifically directed to help prevent and treat the effects of early-life seizures (ELS), which can include autism, learning impairment and epilepsy.

We focus primarily on the hippocampus in rodents using direct observations of synaptic function with field recordings and whole-cell patch clamp measurements of synaptic events in living brain slices. Western-blot techniques and immunohistochemistry are used to probe protein expression and localization. Pharmacological manipulations are added to determine potential therapies. We use in vivo behavioral techniques to further confirm and advance our translational findings back to the bedside.

Outside of the lab, clinical activities and projects in the Neurosciences Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado run intellectually in parallel. We are interested in determining the molecular basis and natural history of autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability. We focus on Rett syndrome (allMECP2 related disorders), CDKL5 deficiency syndrome, GRIN disorders, infantile spasms and Down syndrome. All of these disorders can be associated with autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability. Additional efforts focus on the diagnosis of neurogenetic disorders in patients with autism, epilepsy and intellectual disability.

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