A Rundown of the Types of Brain Research CURE Likes to Support

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, also known as CURE, was founded by a group of parents in 1998 who wanted to protect their children and others from the harmful effects of epilepsy, including seizures. It is the leading nongovernmental agency funding epilepsy research, and a great one to know for both early career and advanced researchers in this field.

Let’s take a closer look at the types of brain research that CURE has been supporting lately.

Determining the Source of Seizures

One big point that CURE wants to get across to researchers is the need to pinpoint the source of seizures, not just treat them. It’s also a big funder of research projects for patients that don’t respond to medication. To address both of these issues, CURE supported researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Perelman School of Medicine who have been looking at networks of electrical activity in the brain just before seizures happen.

“Crowdsourcing” Brain Data

Big data is an integral part of pretty much everything these days, and epilepsy research is no exception. CURE launched a new program called the Epilepsy Genetics Initiative in 2014 to create an interactive database for patients to make their (de-identified) genetic data made available to researchers working to find the cause of their epilepsy. The University of Pennsylvania example mentioned above was made possible with crowdsourced brain data from 22 epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted.

Pediatric Epilepsies

Although CURE funds research aimed to benefit epilepsy patients of all ages, pediatric epilepsies are top priority. In fact, pediatric epilepsies account for around 70 percent of all epilepsy cases.

In 2015, CURE awarded the Pediatric Epilepsies Research Award to Lee Jeong Ho, a professor at the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. His area of study is in the field of intractable epilepsy.

Another initiative is the Infantile Spasms (IS) Research Initiative, which funds research collaborations on this rare childhood epilepsy syndrome. According to CURE, the onset of infantile spasms is typically between three and seven months of age and is characterized by hypsarrhythmia on the EEG. Since January 2013, the foundation has awarded over $2 million to eight researchers working in this field.

2016 Priority Areas

One of the most prominent sources of funding at CURE is the CURE Epilepsy Award, a $250,000 grant. These are the priority areas for this year’s award:

  • Transformative research to enhance our understanding of the cellular, molecular, genetic and systems-level mechanisms that lead to any of the epilepsies, facilitating the continued investigation of disease-modifying or preventative strategies.
  • Innovative approaches that can prevent, modify and/or arrest the development of acquired epilepsy after head injury, stroke, tumor, viral infection, etc.
  • Research that will inform the development of novel therapies to prevent onset or halt the progression of the severe pediatric epilepsies.
  • Research focused on new, effective treatments for the >30% of the epilepsy population who are pharmacoresistant.
  • Novel research that furthers our understanding of the causes and ultimate elimination of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).

To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy: Brain Research and Treatment. Specific questions about funding should be directed to Grants Administrator Liz Higgins at Liz@CUREepilepsy.org or via phone at 312-255-1801. The next LOI deadline for research grants is March 16, 2016 (funding cycle #2 for 2016), so check the foundation's FAQ page for the most up-to-date information.