CURE - Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy It's Time We Found a CURE CURE Epilepsy Research

CURE’s mission is based on the fact that research is the key to finding cures for the epilepsies. Each year, grants are funded based on promising trends in the field and the potential for breakthroughs in a specified area. The below grant recipients were selected with the invaluable assistance of the CURE Scientific Advisory Council, the Lay Review Council, and the scientific peer reviewers who generously volunteer their time to CURE.

See previous years: 2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  Older

2014 Innovator Awards
One-year grants up to $50,000 in support of the exploration of a highly innovative new concept or untested theory that addresses an important problem relevant to epilepsy

CURE grant award 2014 CURE 365 Innovator Award

Fabio Benfenati, MD
The Italian Institute of Technology

“Optogenetic Regulation of the Transcription of Epilepsy Genes: an Innovative Strategy to Cure Drug-Resistant Epilepsy”

Epilepsy can be caused by a number of environmental and pathological factors. Regardless of the specific cause, however, the ultimate effect is an alteration of the mechanisms that modulate the normal functioning of our brain, which then becomes “hyperexcitable”. We have engineered a novel therapeutic approach based on the generation of artificial molecules that can turn off specific pathological processes in the sick brain. We aim at delivering such molecules to the brain in order to “switch off” the pathogenic pathways that would lead to the onset of seizures, and actively maintain control of excitability until the physiological state of the brain is recovered.


Avtar Roopra, PhD
University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Targeting Epigenetics to treat Epilepsy in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex: An Epiphany From Patient Whole Genomic Expression Analysis”

Epilepsy has both genetic and non-genetic roots and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) is a leading genetic cause. Though much is understood about the mutations behind TSC, nothing is known about the drivers of gene changes in the brains of TSC patients that cause seizures and epilepsy. The work proposed here is the first to explore alterations in the way genes are controlled, a process called ‘epigenetics’ that we believe is a major driver of epilepsy in TSC. We aim to open up an entirely new arsenal of drugs – epigenetic modifiers - in the fight against epilepsy in TSC. TSC associated genes play a role in almost every model of epilepsy. Therefore we believe that our finding will aid in the quest for “no seizures, no side effects” in multiple genetic and non-genetic epilepsies.


Senthil Sundaram, MD
Wayne State University

“Identification of Aberrant Gene Regulatory Networks in Infantile Spasms”

The goal of this study is to identify abnormal gene regulatory networks (GRN) of infantile spasms by leveraging the recent advances in genetic research. These advances allow us to creatively utilize the scarce surgical brain tissue obtained in our center over the years from children with infantile spasms. The construction of GRN will enhance our understanding of the mechanisms by which the disease develops. In addition, this knowledge can be used to identify new drug targets. If FDA-approved drugs are already available for these new targets, new clinical trials can be started to determine whether they are useful in treating infantile spasms. If such FDA-approved drugs are not available for these targets, the knowledge obtained from this study can be used to initiate new drug discovery programs. Thus, we believe that the results of this study could potentially open up new possibilities for therapeutic intervention.

2014 Taking Flight Awards
One-year grants up to $100,000 to help promote the careers of young investigators and support them as they develop an independent research focus

Ethan Goldberg

Ethan Goldberg, MD, PhD
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

“Treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy in a rodent model using subtype-specific cortical interneuron precursors”

New strategies for the treatment of medically intractable epilepsy are desperately needed. Cell-based transplantation is slowly emerging as a real therapeutic possibility, although many barriers remain. Dr. Goldberg proposes to use specific, defined subtypes of cortical interneuron precursors to treat epilepsy and its comorbidities in an experimental model of acquired chronic temporal lobe epilepsy. They will assess the functional integration of transplanted interneurons into normal and epileptic hippocampus as well as the ability of such cells to correct circuit-level dysfunction seen in epileptic brain circuits. They will also test the efficacy of transplanted cells in reducing or eliminating seizures in this preclinical model.

Catherine Christian, PhD

Catherine Christian, PhD
Stanford University

“Modulation of GABAergic Transmission and Absence Seizures by Optical Stimulation of Astrocytes”

Synaptic inhibition between neurons in the thalamic reticular nucleus (nRT) plays a critical role in childhood absence epilepsy. Dr. Christian’s recent work has demonstrated that astrocytes, a type of non-neuronal brain cell, play a necessary role in regulating inhibition in the nRT. This suggests the exciting prospect that modulation of astrocytic function, and thereby of synaptic inhibition, could become a powerful resource in treating seizure disorders. The proposed studies will focus on using newly developed methods to selectively stimulate astrocytes in the nRT using light, and assess the effects of this stimulation on both synaptic inhibition and absence seizures.


Esther Krook-Magnuson, PhD
University of California, Irvine

“On-demand restoration of the dentate gate for temporal lobe epilepsy”

This work seeks to identify a new target for intervention to inhibit temporal lobe seizures, with the goal of effectively controlling seizures while minimizing side-effects through greater specificity of intervention. Optogenetics is a powerful technology allowing selective control of specific populations of brain cells at specific times using light. This project uses a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy to investigate whether a responsive optogenetic intervention applied only when a seizure occurs and selectively targeting only a subset of excitatory cells in the temporal lobe can control spontaneous temporal lobe seizures. It further investigates the cognitive benefits of this temporally, spatially, and cell-type selective intervention.

CURE grant award Grants marked with an asterisk are made possible by individuals, families, foundations, or corporations.


See previous years' CURE grant recipients:
2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  Older


CURE For questions, please contact Julie Milder at the CURE office, 312.255.1801, or email
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