Proteins called calcium channels regulate how calcium gets into nerve cells. In nerve cells, calcium channels control a variety of normal physiological responses including muscle and heart contraction, hormone secretion and the way neurons transmit, receive and store information in the central nervous system. When too much calcium enters these cells through calcium channels, a number of disorders can result, including congenital migraine, angina, epilepsy, hypertension and stroke. Michael Hildebrand is studying calcium channels called T-type channels, responsible for neuron firing, the nervous impulses that occur throughout the nervous system. Michael is investigating the structure and function of these channels to determine how they activate or inhibit calcium. He is also investigating drugs that can block specific channels to develop new treatments for epilepsy and various cardiovascular diseases.