Derek Southwell

Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

I am a surgeon-scientist specialized in the treatment of epilepsy and movement disorders.  My laboratory conducts basic and translational neuroscience research on cortical inhibitory circuits.  We are interested in 1) understanding the cellular design of inhibitory circuits in mice and humans, and, 2) advancing interneuron transplantation as a therapeutic strategy for inhibitory circuit repair.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
  • Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
  • Assistant Professor of Cell Biology
  • Assistant Professor in Pathology
  • Assistant Professor in Neurology
  • Assistant Research Professor in Neurobiology
  • Affiliate of the Duke Regeneration Center

Contact Information

  • Office Location: DUMC 3807, 1542 Blue Zone Duke South, Durham, NC 27710
  • Office Phone: +1 919 660 3928
  • Email Address:


  • B.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001
  • Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco, 2009
  • M.D. University of California, San Francisco, 2011
  • Stanford University, School of Medicine, 2013
  • University of California, San Francisco, 2018

Research Interests

Human neuroscience, inhibitory circuits, interneurons, cerebral cortex, cell transplantation, epilepsy, movement disorders.

Courses Taught

  • NEUROSCI 495: Research Independent Study 3
  • NEUROSCI 494: Research Independent Study 2
  • NEUROSCI 493: Research Independent Study 1

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Sperling, Michael R., Chengyuan Wu, Joon Kang, Julia Makhalova, Fabrice Bartolomei, and Derek Southwell. “The Temporal Lobe Club: Newer Approaches to Treat Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.” Epilepsy Curr 24, no. 1 (2024): 10–15.
  • Southwell, Derek G. “Interneuron Transplantation for Drug-Resistant Epilepsy.” Neurosurg Clin N Am 35, no. 1 (January 2024): 151–60.
  • Duraivel, Suseendrakumar, Shervin Rahimpour, Chia-Han Chiang, Michael Trumpis, Charles Wang, Katrina Barth, Stephen C. Harward, et al. “High-resolution neural recordings improve the accuracy of speech decoding.” Nat Commun 14, no. 1 (November 6, 2023): 6938.
  • Barth, Katrina J., James Sun, Chia-Han Chiang, Shaoyu Qiao, Charles Wang, Shervin Rahimpour, Michael Trumpis, et al. “Flexible, high-resolution cortical arrays with large coverage capture microscale high-frequency oscillations in patients with epilepsy.” Epilepsia 64, no. 7 (July 2023): 1910–24.
  • Dahlben, B., N. Bukhari-Parlakturk, D. A. Turner, S. Harward, D. Southwell, and K. T. Mitchell. “Deep Brain Stimulation Outcomes in Underreported Dystonias: A Case Series.” In MOVEMENT DISORDERS, 38:S732–S732, 2023.