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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Carter Snead, MD, FRCP(C)

The Hospital for Sick Children
Staff Neurologist

Research Institute
Senior Scientist
Neurosciences & Mental Health

University of Toronto
Departments of Medicine, Paediatrics and Pharmacology

Chair Positions

Bloorview Children's Hospital Foundation
Paediatric Neuroscience

Phone: 416-813-7851
Fax: 416-813-6334
Email: carter.snead@sickkids.ca

Brief Biography

Dr. Carter Snead III came to Toronto in 1996 from Los Angeles, California, in order to assume the position of Head of the Division of Neurology. He has spent his research career engaged in both clinical and basic research in childhood epilepsy. His clinical research involves the surgical treatment of children with refractory epilepsy. He brought the technique of invasive brain monitoring to HSC for children who are candidates for epilepsy surgery. Also, while at HSC, he has been involved in groundbreaking studies of the utility of magnetoencephalography (MEG) as a non-invasive diagnostic tool to select children for epilepsy surgery. In the laboratory, he has conducted pioneering research that has helped to elucidate the basic molecular mechanisms at play in the pathogenesis of generalized absence seizures in children. His research on these two broad fronts has been productive of over 150 peer reviewed papers, multiple awards and invited presentations across the world, and extramural funding totaling several million dollars over the course of his career to date.

In 1997, he was named the inaugural holder of the Bloorview Children¡¦s Hospital Chair in Paediatric Neuroscience at The Hospital for Sick Children. In 1998, he was appointed Director of the newly formed Research Program in Brain and Behavior as well as senior scientist in the Research Institute of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

Carter was born in West Virginia and received his BS in pharmacy in 1966 and his MD in 1970, both from the University of West Virginia. Subsequently, he trained in paediatrics at Duke, child neurology at Yale, and served in the United States Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he was a paediatric neurologist at the USAF Medical Center. In 1977, he assumed his first academic position in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine where he ascended through the academic ranks. In 1989, he was appointed head of the Division of Neurology at Children¡¦s Hospital Los Angeles and professor of Paediatrics, Pharmacology, Neurology, and Vice-Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.

Academic Background

Fellowship Child Neurology
Yale University School of Medicine, 1972-07-01 - 1975-07-01

Research Interests

Clinical research focus: Infantile spasms
Surgical management of intractable epilepsy in children
Magnetic source imaging in pediatric epilepsy surgery

Basic research focus: i) Basic mechanisms of absence epilepsy; ii)Search for animal models of refractory pediatric epilepsies; iii) Molecular biology of the GABAB receptor

Research Activities

The goal of my clinical research is to develop improved diagnostic protocols for selection of children with extra temporal localization-related epilepsy for surgical treatment of their epilepsy. We have generated data that shows the value of magnetoencephalography in this regard.

The goal of my laboratory is to develop animal models of epilepsy syndromes that are unique to children and to investigate mechanisms of epileptogenesis in these models. We defined and standardized the ƒ×-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) rat model of generalized absence seizures which is now utilized world wide to screen for anti absence activity of putative antiepileptic compounds and to investigate basic mechanisms of absence seizures. We have shown that GABAB receptor (GABABR) agonists exacerbate, that both GHB and GABABRantagonists block, experimental absence seizures. More recently, we have developed, characterized, and standardized an animal model of atypical absence epilepsy in rat and mouse. This model is created by inhibiting cholesterol synthesis in the brain by AY 9944 (AY) during postnatal brain development. Atypical absence seizures in children are a component of epilepsy syndromes in children which are hard to treat and which have a very poor neurodevelopmental outcome. The AY model of atypical absence epilepsy in rat is clinically relevant because it reliably and accurately mirrors the EEG, behavioural, pharmacological, and developmental characteristics of the human condition. Depth electrode recordings indicate that hippocampal circuitry shows epileptiform activity during atypical absence seizure activity in the AY model. This is in contradistinction to typical absence epilepsy where the hippocampus is silent. These data suggest that whether absence epilepsy is typical or atypical appears to be circuitry-dependent. We are currently focusing upon putative GABABR-mediated mechanisms in this new model of atypical absence epilepsy, particularly in regard to putative perturbations of the molecular biology of the GABABR in this model.

Future Research Interests

We are planning to utilize mutant mice with genetically
perturbed GABABR to investigate mechanisms of epileptogenesis.


Recognition Award for Contribution to Clinical Social Work Program
The Division of Patient and Family Services
March 30, 1994
Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

Special Recognition Award
October 16, 1994
Los Angeles, CA

List of Best Doctors in the United States 1994, 1995 in
Naifeth and Smith: The Best Doctors in America

Inaugural Holder
Bloorview Children's Hospital Chair in Pediatric Neuroscience
The Hospital for Sick Children
Toronto, Ontario
Awarded February 27, 1997

Canadian Foundation for Innovation Researcher
August 1998


Nilsson D, Rutka JT, Snead OC 3rd, Raybaud CR, Widjaja E. (C) Preserved structural integrity of white matter adjacent to low-grade tumors. Childs Nerv Syst. 2008;24:313-20

Stewart LS, Nylen KJ, Persinger MA, Cortez MA, Gibson KM, SNEAD OC (SRA). Circadian distribution of generalized tonic-clonic seizures associated with murine succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency, a disorder of GABA metabolism. Epilepsy Behavior 2008;13:290-4

Mohamed IS, Cheyne D, Gaetz WC, Otsubo H, Logan WJ, SNEAD OC (C), Pang EW. Spatiotemporal patterns of oscillatory brain activity during auditory word recognition in children: A synthetic aperture magnetometry study. Int J Psychophysiol 2008;68:141-8.

Go C, SNEAD OC (SRA). Pharmacological intractable epilepsy in children: diagnosis and pre-operative evaluation. Neurosurg Focus 2008;25:E2.

Nilsson D, Go C, Rutka JT, Rydenhag B, Mabbott DJ, SNEAD OC, Raybaud CR, Widjaja E. (C) Bilateral diffusin tensor abnormalities of temporal lobe and cingulae gyrus white matter in children with temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy Res 2008;81:128-35.

Ishii R, Canuet L, Ochi A, Xiang J, Imai K, Chan D, Iwase M, Takeda M, SNEAD OC, Otsubo H. (C) Spatially filetered magnetoencephalography compared with elecxtrocorticography to identify intrinsically epileptogenic focal cortical dysplasia. Epilepsy Res 2008;81:228-32.

Sadeghnia HR, Cortex MA, Liu D, Hosseinzadeh H, SNEAD OC.(SRA) Anti-absence effects of safranal in acute experimental seizure models: EEG and autoradiography. J Pharm Pharma Sci 2008;11:1-14.

RamachandranNair R, Ochi A, Imai K, Benifla M, Akiyama T, Holowka S, Rutka JT, SNEAD OC, (C) Otsubo H. Epileptic spasms in older pediatric patients: MEG and ictal high-frequency oscillations suggest focal-onset seizures in a subset of epileptic spasms. Epilepsy Res 2008;78:216-24.

Nylen K, Perez Velazquez JL, Likhodii SS, Cortez MA, Shen L, Leshchenko V, Adeli K, Gibson KM, Burnham WM, SNEAD OC (SRA) . A ketogenic diet rescues the murine succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficient phenotype. Experimental Neurology 2008;210:449-57.

Knerr I, Pearl PL, Bottiglieri T, SNEAD OC, Jakobs C, Gibson KM (C) Therapeutic concepts in succinate semialdehyde dehydrogenase (SSADH;ALDH5a1) deficiency (gamma-hydroxybutyric aciduria). Hypotheses evolved from 25 years of patient evaluation, studies in Ald5a1-/- mice, and characterization of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid pharmacology. J Inherit Metab Dis 2007;30:279-94.

Mohamed IS, Otsubo H, Ochi A, Elliott I, Donner E, Chuang S, Sharma R, Holowka S, Rugka J, SNEAD OC (SRA) Utility of magnetoencephalography in the evaluation of recurrent seizures after epilepsy surgery. Epilepsia 2007;48:2150-9.

Mirabella G, Morong S, Buncic JR, SNEAD OC, Logan WJ, Weiss SK, Abdolell M, Westall CA. (C) Contrast sensitivity is reduced in children with infantile spasms. Invest Opthalmol Vis Sci 2007;48:3610-5.

Mohamed IS, Otsubo H, Ochi A, Elliott I, Donner E, Chuang S, Sharma R, Holowka S, Rugka J, SNEAD OC (SRA) Utility of magnetoencephalography in the evaluation of recurrent seizures after epilepsy surgery. Epilepsia 2007;48:2150-9.

Imai K, Otsubo H, Sell E, Mohamed I, Ochi A, Ramachandrannair R, SNEAD OC (SRA) MEG source estimation from mesio-basal temporal areas in a child with a proencephalic cyst. Acta Neurol Scan 2007;116:263-7

Perez-Velazquez, J-L, Huo JZ, Dominguez LG, Leschenko Y, SNEAD OC (SRA). Typical versus atypical absence seizures: network mechanisms of the spread of paroxysms. Epilepsia 2007;48:1585-93.

Widjaja E,, Blaser S, Miller E, Kassner A, Shannon P, Chuang SH, SNEAD OC (C), Raybaud CR. Evaluatrion of subcorytical white matter and deep white matter tracts in malformations of cortical development. Epilepsia 2007;48:1460-9.

RamachandranNair R, Ochi A, Rutka JT, SNEAD OC (C), Otsubo H. Prominent benign Ronandic epileptiform discharges in a pediatric patient with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy: MEG, scalp, and intracranial EEG features. Acta Neurol Scand 2007;116:59-64.