Though her friendly demeanor and poise make her seem like she’d be the ideal doctor, she admits she considered pursuing an MD, but decided against it. “Because I have such a strong emotional connection to the disease, I don’t think I would make a good doctor for that reason," she says. "The hardest part, to me, would be the parents [of children with epilepsy].” Godale recalls how upset and frustrated her mother would get, “She’d ask the doctors, ‘Why isn’t there a cure for her, why isn't the medicine working?’”
“Those memories are always in the back of my mind. As a scientist, I can contribute to the advancement of understanding the epilepsy from a different angle.”
As a neuroscience graduate student, Godale currently works in the Danzer lab, a Cincinnati Children’s research lab run by Steve Danzer, PhD, an associate professor in UC’s Department of Anesthesiology and Children’s Department of Anesthesia. He is also the director of the Center for Pediatric Neuroscience at Cincinnati Children’s.
“Our research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms of epileptogenesis … essentially trying to understand how a normal brain becomes an epileptic brain,” explains Danzer. “The key clinical problem is that epilepsy cannot be prevent or cured, and current medications work for only a third of people with epilepsy. If we can learn how epilepsy develops, we can begin to devise new ways to treat it.”
“We focus on looking for new or novel antiepileptic therapies, through different cellular pathways,” says Godale. Her current research focus is on identifying new therapeutic targets for at-risk epilepsy patients—how might treatments inhibit the development of epilepsy in the brain.
Currently, Christin has published one peer-reviewed first-author publication. She has presented her research at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, the UC Graduate Student Research Forum and the prestigious Gordon Research Conference on Mechanisms of Epilepsy and Neural Synchronization.
Danzer says that during their first year in the UC Neuroscience Graduate Program, students rotate through several research labs, spending 2 to 3 months in each to understand the technology and get a feel for the environment. Student then select a lab for their doctoral studies. There are nearly 60 neuroscience labs between UC and Cincinnati Children’s.
Godale, now in her third year of graduate studies, has worked with the Danzer lab since 2016.
“She is extremely passionate about research. She will also be a great advocate for epilepsy research by bringing her unique view to the table—both her own experience as a person with epilepsy, and as a scientist,” says Danzer.