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 Research Professor in Neurobiology
  • Assistant Professor in Pathology
  • Assistant Professor in Neurology
  • Assistant Professor of Cell Biology
  • Affiliate of the Duke Regeneration Center

Contact Information

  • Office Location: DUMC 3807, 1542 Blue Zone Duke South, Durham, NC 27710
  • Office Phone: (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

  • NEUROBIO 393: Research Independent Study
  • NEUROBIO 793: Research in Neurobiology
  • NEUROSCI 493: Research Independent Study 1
  • NEUROSCI 494: Research Independent Study 2
  • NEUROSCI 495: Research Independent Study 3

In the News

Representative Publications

  • 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.
  • Qian, Yongjun, Jiayun Li, Shengli Zhao, Elizabeth A. Matthews, Michael Adoff, Weixin Zhong, Xu An, et al. “Programmable RNA sensing for cell monitoring and manipulation.” Nature 610, no. 7933 (October 2022): 713–21.
  • Park, Christine, Saurabh R. Sinha, and Derek G. Southwell. “Laser ablative treatment of musicogenic epilepsy arising from dominant mesial temporal lobe: illustrative case.” J Neurosurg Case Lessons 3, no. 23 (June 6, 2022): CASE2295.
  • Sun, James, Katrina Barth, Shaoyu Qiao, Chia-Han Chiang, Charles Wang, Shervin Rahimpour, Michael Trumpis, et al. “Intraoperative microseizure detection using a high-density micro-electrocorticography electrode array.” Brain Commun 4, no. 3 (2022): fcac122.
  • Chiang, Chia-Han, Charles Wang, Katrina Barth, Shervin Rahimpour, Michael Trumpis, Suseendrakumar Duraivel, Iakov Rachinskiy, et al. “Flexible, high-resolution thin-film electrodes for human and animal neural research.” J Neural Eng 18, no. 4 (June 17, 2021).