Daniel H. Lowenstein (physician)

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Daniel H. Lowenstein, M.D.
NationalityUnited States
Alma materHarvard Medical School (M.D.)
AwardsNumerous teaching awards; American Epilepsy Society Basic Research Award (2001)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, San Francisco

Daniel H. Lowenstein, M.D., is the Robert B. and Ellinor Aird Professor of Neurology and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Director of the UCSF Epilepsy Center, and Director of Physician-Scientist and Education Training Programs for the UCSF School of Medicine. He is known internationally for his contributions in the field of epilepsy including laboratory-based and clinical research, the clinical care of patients with epilepsy, and advocacy for the needs of patients and family members living with epilepsy. He has had an active role in medical education, has held many leadership roles at both UCSF and Harvard Medical School, was the originator of the “Academy of Medical Educators” concept, and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards both at UCSF and nationally. He has served as Dean for Medical Education at Harvard Medical School, and has been president of the American Epilepsy Society (2003-4).[1]

Education and academic career[edit]

Lowenstein graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Colorado (1973), obtained an M.S. degree in Man-Environment Relations from Pennsylvania State University (1978), and received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1983.[2] At the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), he completed an internship in Pediatrics (1983–84), a residency in Neurology (1984–87), a two-year fellowship in Stanley Prusiner's Laboratory, and then became a faculty member at UCSF in the Department of Neurology, where was the Robert B. and Ellinor Aird Professor of Neurology from 1998-2000. While at UCSF, he established the UCSF Epilepsy Research Laboratory, was very active at multiple levels within the university including serving as Co-Chair for the Chancellor's Steering Committee on Diversity, and Chair of the “Blue Sky” Curriculum Design Task Force that helped design the new medical school curriculum.[3]

From 2000 to 2003, Lowenstein served as Dean for Medical Education at Harvard Medical School (HMS). While there, he oversaw a re-organization of curricular governance, the creation of a new educational technology program, and the establishment of the HMS Academy, a novel structure for the support of the school's educational mission. In 2003, he returned to his current position at UCSF which includes directorship of the UCSF Epilepsy Center, oversight of physician-scientist training programs, and, beginning in 2006, numerous leadership roles in the UCSF Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. In February 2015, Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, tapped the physician-scientist to be second-in-command as the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the nearly $5 billion enterprise. In this role, Lowenstein leads UCSF's robust research enterprise, and its highly ranked academic program, consisting of four professional schools and Graduate Division.[4]

Lowenstein has had national leadership roles in professional and governmental organizations related to the fields of neuroscience, neurology and epilepsy. These include: Member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which helps to define scientific policy at the national level.;[2] President of the American Epilepsy Society (2003–04); Chair of the NINDS Epilepsy Benchmarks Oversight Committee (2000–present); Chair of the International League Against Epilepsy Commission on Genetics (2013–present).


Lowenstein has received numerous awards for his research accomplishments and for his medical school teaching, both at UCSF and nationally.

His research awards include:

  • The American Epilepsy Society's 2001 Basic Research Award, an honor given each year to the foremost basic science investigator whose research "contributes importantly to understanding and conquering epilepsy."
  • The American Epilepsy Society 2012 Lennox Award, given to "a clinician-scientist who is felt to be among the most outstanding investigators in the field of epilepsy research."
  • The International League Against Epilepsy 2013 Ambassador Award "in recognition of outstanding international contributions to the cause of epilepsy."
  • The American Neurological Association 2013 Raymond D. Adams Lectureship

His national teaching awards include:

At UCSF, he has received many teaching awards from the 1st and 2nd year medical student classes, awards for which they nominate their faculty each year. In addition, his peers have recognized his accomplishments with additional awards. These include: multiple awards for "A Major Contribution to Teaching", "Outstanding Lecture", "Outstanding Lecture Series", and "An Outstanding Role Model"; the 1992 UCSF Academic Senate Distinction in Teaching Award; the 1993 and 1998 UCSF Kaiser Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching; the UCSF Class of 1995 John V. Carbone Award for Excellence in Teaching; and Faculty Teaching Awards in 1994 and 1996.

Lowenstein has given the keynote address for graduating medical students at commencement ceremonies at UCSF in 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2012. In 1996, the UCSF students awarded him the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.[2]

Lowenstein has also advocated for cultural diversity issues at UCSF, for which he received the 1998 Black Student Health Association's Faculty Award, the 1998 UCSF Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, and the 2006 Holly Smith Award for Exceptional Service to the UCSF School of Medicine.[2] In 2009, he received the Chancellor's Award for Public Service in recognition of his creation and leadership of the Iraq Action Group which sponsored numerous programs to educate the Bay Area community about the health consequences of the Iraq War.


Lowenstein's recent clinical and research interests include the genetic factors thought to underlie many forms of epilepsies (idiopathic epilepsies) and the management and treatment of patients with status epilepticus (unusually prolonged seizures).

His laboratory studies (carried out from 1989 to 2002) have addressed the fundamental mechanisms of neuronal network remodeling that occur during epileptogenesis; i.e. the process in which a normal network transforms into a hyperexcitable network capable of producing or relaying seizure activity. The main efforts of his research group focused on the various forms of cellular reorganization that are observed in humans with temporal lobe epilepsy, and the parallels between reorganization in the adult nervous system and normal developmental processes. Important findings by his team included the discovery that seizure activity in an adult model of temporal lobe epilepsy causes a marked increase in the birth of hippocampal neurons (with post-doc Jack Parent, MD), and the recognition that numerous molecules responsible for normal development are also expressed in this same brain region in the adult (with post-doc Sam Pleasure, MD, PhD, Robert Elliott, PhD, and others).

In 2002, Lowenstein turned his attention toward questions related to the genetic basis of common forms of human epilepsy. Working with colleagues from throughout the world, he helped create the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project (EPGP), an international, multi-institutional, collaborative study that aimed to collect detailed phenotype data on 5,250 subjects with specific forms of epilepsy, with the goal of determining the genetic determinants of their disease with whole exome and whole genome sequencing. EPGP has now enrolled over 4,000 participants and has compiled the most extensive and detailed phenotype dataset in the history of epilepsy research. In October 2011, Lowenstein and colleagues were successful in receiving funding for a new NINDS Epilepsy Center Without Walls, the “Epi4K: Gene Discovery in 4,000 Epilepsy Genomes” which has as one of its goals the analysis of the EPGP cohorts. The first main discovery out of the Epi4K has been the identification of numerous de novo mutations in patients with so-called “epileptic encephalopathies”. (Epi4K and Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project. De novo mutations in epileptic encephalopathies. Nature 501:217-221, 2013)

Lowenstein's clinical research related to status epilepticus began with retrospective studies of patients admitted to San Francisco General Hospital, as well as a highly cited article suggesting a revision of the definition of status epilepticus (Lowenstein DH, Bleck TP, Macdonald RM. It's time to revise the definition of status epilepticus. Epilepsia 40:120-122, 1999). In the 1990s, he was the Principal Investigator of a prospective, multi-centered, NINDS-sponsored clinical trial looking at the potential benefits of active treatment of patients in status epilepticus in the pre-hospital setting. This five-year study, completed in 1999, helped define the optimal therapy for these patients nationally (Alldredge BK, Gelb AM, Isaacs SM, Corry MD, Allen F, O Neil N, Gottwald MD, Ulrich S, Neuhaus JM, Segal MR, Lowenstein DH. Prehospital treatment of status epilepticus: a randomized, controlled trial of paramedic-administered benzodiazepine treatment. The New England Journal of Medicine 345:631-637, 2001). Lowenstein currently serves as Co-Principal Investigator and member of the Neurological Emergency Treatment Trials (NETT) Clinical Coordinating Center, which oversees a network of academic centers and affiliated hospitals in the U.S. carrying out numerous clinical trials related to acute neurological disease. As part of this effort, he was Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Robert Silbergleit for the Rapid Anticonvulsant Medications Prior to Arrival Trial (RAMPART) study, where he was involved in the design, oversight and implementation of a trial that unambiguously demonstrated the benefits of IM midazolam in this setting (Silbergleit R, Durkalski V, Lowenstein DH, Conwit R, Pancioli A, Palesch Y, Barsan W and the Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials Investigators. Intramuscular versus intravenous therapy for prehospital status epilepticus. The New England Journal of Medicine 366:591-600, 2012).

Other Notable Accomplishments[edit]

The Academy:

While chairing the UCSF “Blue Sky” Curriculum Design Task Force in the late 1990s, Lowenstein is credited for coming up with the idea of “The Academy”, an entirely new approach for supporting the teaching mission of medical schools. The Academy provides an alternate mechanism for directing resources toward the support of faculty educators and curricular innovation through the formation of essentially a “department without walls”, with features such as endowed teaching chairs, innovation funding, peer-peer teaching observation, and recognition of talented educators throughout the institution. The academy movement now involves over 35 institutions across the U.S.

The Epilepsy Research Benchmarks:

During the first White House-initiated Curing Epilepsy conference held in 2000, Lowenstein suggested that members of the epilepsy research community should attempt to capture the field's current “state of the art” and define a series of goals for the field that could serve as a research agenda. This led to the adoption by the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the “Epilepsy Research Benchmarks”, a program that has been led by Lowenstein and used by the NINDS and other funding agencies to help prioritize grant opportunities and demonstrate progress to the legislature and the public at-large. One of the major impacts of this effort has been the new emphasis placed on research into the co-morbidities of epilepsy, an aspect of epilepsy that was previously neglected on the research agenda.

The Last Lecture:

In April 2013, Lowenstein was selected by the students at UCSF to give “The Last Lecture”, where he was asked to respond to the prompt: “If you had but one lecture to give, what would you say?” Lowenstein's hour-long talk to more than 700 members of the campus community, and described by observers as “alternately inspiring, hilarious and profoundly moving”, was organized into four threads: adventure, passion, justice, and joy and sorrow.

Other Interests:

In addition to his professional activities, Lowenstein is an avid skier and wilderness traveller who has hiked, climbed and canoed extensively throughout the world, including mountaineering and canoe expeditions in Asia, Central and South America, Canada and the United States.


Lowenstein has published over 175 scholarly professional journal articles[6] that include:

  • The Epi4K Consortium and the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project (2013). "De novo mutations in epileptic encephalopathies". Nature. 501 (7466): 217–221. doi:10.1038/nature12439. PMC 3773011. PMID 23934111.
  • Stern BJ, Lowenstein DH, Schuh LA (2008). "Neurology education research". Neurology. 70 (11): 876–883. doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000304745.93585.88. PMID 18332346.
  • Lowenstein DH (2007). "Mt. Pumbari, Lhasa, Tibet (photograph)". The New England Journal of Medicine. 356: 1544.
  • Irby DM, Cooke M, Lowenstein DH, Richards B (2004). "Structural changes supporting the educational mission". Academic Medicine. 79: 729–736. doi:10.1097/00001888-200408000-00003.
  • Alldredge BK, Gelb AM, Isaacs SM, Corry MD, Allen F, O Neil N, Gottwald MD, Ulrich S, Neuhaus JM, Segal MR, Lowenstein DH (2001). "Prehospital treatment of status epilepticus: a randomized, controlled trial of paramedic-administered benzodiazepine treatment". The New England Journal of Medicine. 345: 631–637. doi:10.1056/nejmoa002141.
  • Lowenstein DH, Bleck TP, Macdonald RM (1999). "It's time to revise the definition of status epilepticus". Epilepsia. 40: 120–122. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1157.1999.tb02000.x. hdl:2027.42/65376.
  • Lowenstein DH, Alldredge BK (1998). "Status epilepticus". The New England Journal of Medicine. 338 (14): 970–6. doi:10.1056/NEJM199804023381407. PMID 9521986.
  • Parent J, Yu TW, Leibowitz RT, Geschwind DH, Sloviter RS, Lowenstein DH (1997). "Dentate granule cell neurogenesis is increased by seizures and contributes to aberrant network plasticity in the adult rat hippocampus". Journal of Neuroscience. 17: 3727–3738. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.17-10-03727.1997.
  • Lowenstein DH, Chan PH, Miles MF (1991). "The stress protein response in cultured neurons: Characterization and evidence for a protective role in excitotoxicity". Neuron. Cell Press. 7 (6): 1053–1060. doi:10.1016/0896-6273(91)90349-5. PMID 1764242.
  • Lowenstein DH (1991). "Night passages (poem)". The New England Journal of Medicine. 324: 852. doi:10.1056/nejm199103213241218.
  • Lowenstein DH, Massa SM, Rowbotham MC, Collins SD, McKinney HE, Simon RP (1987). "Acute neurologic and psychiatric complications associated with cocaine abuse". American Journal of Medicine. 83 (5): 841–846. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(87)90640-1. PMID 3674091.


  1. ^ NINDS conference speakers (2007) (Accessed 29 May 2010)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g UCSF School of Medicine, Daniel H. Lowenstein faculty page Archived 2011-05-01 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 29 May 2010).
  3. ^ UCSF Epilepsy Center (Department of Neurology) Archived 2010-05-16 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 29 May 2010)
  4. ^ https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/01/122921/driven-science-humanism-and-service-dan-lowenstein-joins-ucsf-leadership-team
  5. ^ Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Awards: Previous Award Recipients Archived 2010-06-13 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 29 May 2010).
  6. ^ 88 items were found in a search on the ISI Web of Science database, refined by: Subject Areas=( NEUROSCIENCES & NEUROLOGY OR BIOCHEMISTRY & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY OR PHARMACOLOGY & PHARMACY OR GENETICS & HEREDITY OR CELL BIOLOGY ) AND Authors=( LOWENSTEIN, DH ) (search conducted 29 May 2010)

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