• Connolly, Mary B.


    Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
    Director of the Epilepsy Surgery Program, BC Children's Hospital
    Clinical Professor and Division Head, Division of Neurology, Department of Paediatrics, University of British Columbia

    Degrees / Designations
    Primary Area of Research
    Brain, Behaviour & Development
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    604-875-2345 ext. 3512
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address

    BC Children's Hospital
    Room K3-179
    4480 Oak Street
    Vancouver, BC V6H 3V4

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Pediatric neurology, epilepsy and epilepsy surgery
    • Psychiatric comorbidity in children with epilepsy
    • Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures

    My research centers on various aspects of pediatric neurology, primarily epilepsy and surgical management of epilepsy.

    Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disorder in children and is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures due to uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Thirty per cent or more of epilepsy cases do not respond to conventional epileptic medications. Other treatments for epilepsy are epilepsy surgery, vagus nerve stimulation, the ketogenic diet and investigational anti-epileptic drugs. 

    The epilepsy surgery program at BC Children’s Hospital was established in the mid 90s. My research focuses on outcomes following epilepsy surgery of various types and the influence of surgery on seizure control, quality of life, learning and attention. I am also involved in research in video-EEG monitoring, psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, psychiatric comorbidity in epilepsy and adverse reactions to anti-epileptic drugs.

    Current Projects

    Outcome following epilepsy surgery
    Since the epilepsy surgery program was established, I have personally followed all children who have had surgery longitudinally from a clinical perspective. Neuropsychological and quality of life studies have been performed prior to surgery and on follow-up.

    With colleagues in neurosurgery and neuropsychology, I have published several papers on long-term outcomes and quality of life following hemispheric surgery, surgery for tuberous sclerosis and vagus nerve stimulation. We also recently reported the a group of children with refractory status epilepticus who had urgent epilepsy surgery. A recent study of epilepsy surgery in the first 3 years of life across Canada, one of the largest series in young children in the literature, outlines the success in this group.

    I am currently studying outcomes in children who had epilepsy surgery in the frontal lobe and assessing factors which may negatively affect the outcome. I am also studying the long-term outcome in children who had temporal lobe surgery and assessing outcomes and the influence of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, psychosis and anxiety on outcome.

    Outcome Trajectories in Children with Epilepsy: What Factors are Important?
    Our centre is participating in this multicentre study funded by CIHR. A variety of factors, both environmental and organic, influence the life quality outcomes in children with epilepsy. Our hypothesis that changes in children’s outcomes over time will be more strongly related to child and family psychosocial factors than to epilepsy-specific variables. The outcomes examined in this study include biomedical health and functional status (primarily mental health and intellectual abilities), academic achievement and participation.  We will also measure the subjective experience of epilepsy with generic and condition-specific self- and proxy-reported ‘quality of life’ (HRQL) instruments.

    Acute psychiatric adverse events associated with Levetiracetam therapy in children with epilepsy
    This study analyzes acute psychiatric adverse events (PAEs) in children receiving Levetiracetam, a new anti-epileptic drug. Predisposing factors such a personal or family history of psychiatric illness dosing schedules are reviewed.  The aim is to identify risk factors and try to minimize PAEs on Levetiracetam.

    Psychogenic Non-epileptic seizures: Long term outcome in children
    Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures are very disabling and result in significant morbidity if not recognized and managed appropriately. They can occur in children with and without epilepsy. At our institution, a multidisciplinary program has been developed to treat children and their families. We are currently completing a long-term follow up study looking at factors which influence outcome, psychiatric co-morbidity, personal and family stressors.

    Selected Publications

    Steinbok P, Gan YC, Connolly MB, Carmant L, Sinclair DB, Rutka J, Griebel R, Aronyk K,  Hader W, Ventureyra E, Atkinson J.  Epilepsy Surgery in the first 3 years of life: A Canadian survey.  Epilepsia.  2009.  (in press)  Epub 2009 Jan 19

    Banwell B, Kennedy J, Sadovnick D, Arnold D, Wambera K, Connolly MB, Yager J, Mah J, Shah N, Sebire G, Meaney B, Dilenge ME, Lortie A, Whiting S, Doja A, Levin S, MacDonald EA, Meek D, Wood E, Lowry N, Buckley D, Yim C, Adams C, Awuku M, Guimond C, Cooper P, Grand’Maison F, Burke Baird J, Bhan V, Bar-Or A. Incidence of Acquired Demyelination of the Central Nervous System in Canadian Children.  Neurology.  2009.  72(3):232-9.

    Sadleir L, Scheffer IE, Smith S, Carstenson B, Farrell K, Connolly MB.  Factors influencing clinical features of absence seizures.  Epilepsia.  2008.  49(12):2100-7.  Epub 2008 June 26

    Schrader D, Steinbok P, Connolly MB.  Urgent resective surgery for refractory status epilepticus.  Eur. J. Pediatr. Neurol.  2009.  13(1):20-7.  Epub 2008 May 4

    Sherman EMS, Griffiths SY, Akdag S, Connolly MB, Slick DJ, Wiebe S.  Sociodemographic correlates of health-related quality of life in pediatric epilepsy.  Epilepsy Behav.  2008.  12:96-101.  Epub 2007 Oct 31

    Sherman EMS, Connolly MB, Farrell K, Steinbok P. Quality of life and seizure outcome after vagus nerve stimulation in children with intractable epilepsy. J Child Neurol 2008;23(9):991-8 Epub 2008 May 12

    Basheer SN, Connolly MB, Lautzenhiser A, Sherman EMS, Hendson G, Steinbok P. Hemispheric surgery in children with refractory epilepsy: Seizure outcome, complications and adaptive function. Epilepsia. 2007 Jan;48(1):133-40

    Madhavan D, Schaffer S, Yankovsky A, Arzimanoglou A, Renaldo F, Zaroff CM, LaJoie J, Weiner HL, Andermann E,  Franz DN, Leonard J, Connolly M, Cascino GD, Devinsky O. Surgical outcome in tuberous sclerosis complex: A multicenter survey. Epilepsia 2007;48;8:1625-8

    Harkin LA, McMahon JM, Iona X, Dibbens L, Pelekanos JT, Zuberi SM, Sadleir LG, Andermann E, Gill D, Farrell K, Connolly M, Stanley T, Harbord M, Andermann F, Wang J, Batish SD, Jones JG, Seltzer WK, Gardner A; Infantile Epileptic Encephalopathy Referral Consortium; Sutherland G, Berkovic SF, Mulley JC, Scheffer IE. The spectrum of SCNIA-related infantile epileptic encephalopathies. Brain. 2007 Mar; 130(Pt3):843-52. PMID: 17347258

    Connolly MB, Hendson G, Steinbok P. Tuberous sclerosis complex: A review of the management of epilepsy with emphasis on surgical aspects. Child's Nerv. Syst.  2006.  22(8):896-908.

    Honours & Awards
    • Award of Distinction from Partners in Care - BC Children’s Hospital, 2006

    • BC Children’s Hospital Education Award - Education Day for Families, 2005
    • First Recipient of the Annual Dr. Parminder Singh Award of Distinction for most valuable subspecialty consultant - BC Pediatric Society, 2005
    • Partners in Care Award - BC Children's Hospital, 2002
    • British Columbia's Children's Hospital Research Fellowship, 1992-1994
    • Laura McCrae Award for Subspecialty Resident, 1991-1992
    Research Group Members
    • Dr. Vesna Popovska – Research Manager
    • Dr. Dewi Schrader – MD, Master’s Student – Clinical Investigator Program
    • Andrew Battison – Research Assistant