CURE Epilepsy and Epilepsy Canada Announce Agreement to Team Up to Fight for a Cure

Epilepsy research in North America has received a major boost. CURE Epilepsy, based in Chicago and Epilepsy Canada, headquartered in Toronto, two organizations at the forefront of funding scientific research, have agreed to form a strategic working relationship that formally commenced on January 1, 2021.

As the need for a cure for epilepsy remains ever present, it is essential that the pace of epilepsy research accelerate to ensure that scientific advances to address this challenging condition move forward. This partnership will further both organizations’ ability to drive science and research to find a cure for epilepsy through more efficiently and strategically targeting their financial resources to drive progress.

“CURE Epilepsy funds ground-breaking research all over the world. To date, we have funded innovative epilepsy studies in 15 countries, including several in Canada,” said Beth Dean, CEO, CURE Epilepsy. “Partnering with Epilepsy Canada is a natural step for us in our drive to advance epilepsy research and find a cure. This strategic relationship makes sense on many levels, as our missions are aligned, we have a shared passion for finding answers through science, and researchers from both countries have a long history of collaboration.”

Gary Collins, President, Epilepsy Canada, added, “Over the past few years, Epilepsy Canada has sought strategic alliances that would enable us to direct more funding to epilepsy. We believe the CURE Epilepsy partnership will be an outstanding win. Both organizations wish to find a cure for epilepsy by funding and promoting scientific research into a cure. By working with CURE Epilepsy, Epilepsy Canada is increasing its ability to impact that goal ten-fold.”

About CURE Epilepsy: Since its inception in 1998, CURE Epilepsy has raised more than $78 million USD to fund epilepsy research and other initiatives that will lead the way to cures for the epilepsies. CURE Epilepsy awards grants for novel research projects to prevent epilepsy related to post-traumatic epilepsy, advancing the search for a cure, eliminating treatment side effects, and reversing deficits caused by frequent seizures. CURE Epilepsy funds grants for young and established investigators and to date has awarded more than 250 cutting-edge projects in 15 countries around the world. To learn more, please visit or contact us at

About Epilepsy Canada: Epilepsy Canada was founded in 1966 has raised more than $4.3 million CDN since 2010. Since our inception, we have been a leading advocate and significant supporter of epilepsy research at Canadian universities and research hospitals. The organization is totally funded by corporate and individual donations and each year seeks out significant research projects to support. To learn more, please visit or contact us at

CURE Epilepsy Logo

We are now CURE Epilepsy

Chicago (October 19, 2020) — Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), the private non-profit leader laser-focused on finding a cure for epilepsy, today announced the organization’s rebrand to CURE Epilepsy. The rebrand includes a new name and logo to better align the brand with its stated mission.

CURE Epilepsy’s single-minded dedication to funding and promoting patient-focused research to find a cure for epilepsy sets the organization apart. Founded in 1998 by Susan Axelrod and a small group of fellow parents who were frustrated over the state of epilepsy treatments, they had one goal – to cure epilepsy. “The rebrand to CURE Epilepsy reinforces the core of who we are and have always been. We are tireless in our determination to find the cure for this dreadful disease that devastates so many families, so no one has to suffer another seizure, another hospital-stay, or another death from epilepsy, ever again,” said Susan Axelrod, founder of CURE Epilepsy.

The new CURE Epilepsy logo includes a bold, innovative depiction of a microscope. This icon serves to reinforce CURE Epilepsy’s unwavering commitment to accelerating breakthrough science that will help CURE Epilepsy achieve its mission. “CURE Epilepsy is known in the epilepsy community for being tenacious and determined in driving discoveries that will make the difference,” said Beth Dean, CURE Epilepsy’s CEO. “This iconic microscope represents our cutting-edge, data-driven approach to scientific study that will change our understanding of this disease so that we will one day cure epilepsy.”

Our mission is to find a cure for epilepsy by promoting and funding patient-focused research. Since its inception over 20 years ago, CURE Epilepsy has raised over $70 million to fund innovative studies to advance its goal of no seizures and no side effects. To date, CURE Epilepsy has awarded more than 240 cutting-edge research projects in 15 countries around the world. As the non-profit leader in epilepsy research, CURE Epilepsy is unwavering in its commitment to fund scientific study and accelerate research to reach our goal – a world without epilepsy. To learn more, please visit our website or contact us at

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy Appoints Beth Lewin Dean as Chief Executive Officer

Chicago (April 8, 2019) – Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) announced today the appointment of Beth Lewin Dean, MBA, MPA as the new Chief Executive Officer. Beth brings 17 years of extensive experience within the epilepsy field, which has been driven by her strong commitment to understanding the needs, aspirations and hopes of patients and their loved ones.

“We are absolutely delighted to bring Beth to CURE,” said Ann Benschoter, CURE Board Chairman. “The board and I were impressed with Beth’s strong track record of engaging with physicians, researchers, thought leaders, and patient advocacy groups. Additionally, we were attracted by her passion for volunteerism and her dedication to patients that is illustrated by her many years of partnering with the epilepsy nonprofit sector.”

Following a national search, the search committee selected Beth. Not only did she demonstrate strong analytical skills and leadership capabilities, but the process also revealed her deep belief in CURE’s mission. Colleagues have praised her for both her strategic leadership and her ability to foster collaboration and strong teamwork in both the corporate and voluntary sectors.

Beth’s background combines exceptional academic and professional credentials. After graduating from Cornell College, Beth continued her education, earning an MPA from Indiana University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Her professional experience includes marketing executive roles at Lundbeck and Abbott Laboratories where she was well-known and respected for her work managing brands and the relationships formed with patient groups and disease-state thought leaders.

“I am highly motivated by CURE’s mission of advancing science and research that will lead to a cure,” said Beth Lewin Dean. “I look forward to working with the entire CURE community of supporters, patients, families, and researchers to continue to accelerate CURE’s research efforts toward our shared goal—a cure for epilepsy.”

“Beth’s impressive background and enthusiasm will help accelerate CURE’s mission to cure epilepsy, transforming and saving millions of lives,” said Susan Axelrod, CURE founder. “We are thrilled that Beth will be leading CURE forward.”


The mission of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) is to find a cure for epilepsy by promoting and funding patient-focused research. Since its inception in 1998, CURE has raised over $60 million to advance its goal of no seizures and no side effects. To date, CURE has awarded more than 220 cutting-edge research projects in 15 countries around the world. CURE is the leading non-governmental agency fully committed to funding research in epilepsy. For information about CURE, please visit our website at: or contact us at:

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) receives $2M gift from Shery and David Cotton and Lisa and Michael Cotton.

Chicago, IL (March 28, 2019) – Citizen’s United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) is delighted to announce that Shery and David Cotton and Lisa and Michael Cotton have committed $2 million to benefit CURE and its initiatives to find a cure for epilepsy.

Since its inception in 1998, CURE has been at the forefront of the dramatic shift in the epilepsy research community from simply treating seizures to enhancing understanding of underlying mechanisms and causes, so that cures and preventative strategies can be found. CURE’s research program is cutting-edge, dynamic and responsive to new scientific opportunities and directions through both investigator-initiated grants and unprecedented scientific programs and initiatives.

Shery and David Cotton were the co-founders of Meridian Health Plan, a family owned company where Michael, their son, served as the COO. Shery, David, Lisa and Michael are active philanthropists and strong community supporters, especially in Detroit and their home town of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The family has a very personal relationship with epilepsy and CURE. Four years ago, Lisa and Michael Cotton’s daughter, Vivian passed away at the young age of 18 months. Born prematurely, she suffered from epilepsy due to hydrocephaly. Vivian was a fighter from the very beginning, but despite all the treatments and medications available, her seizures continued. Since losing Vivian in 2015, Lisa and Michael have been actively contributing and fundraising for CURE, and Lisa was elected to the CURE board of directors in 2018. This significant gift will enhance a wide range of CURE activities and further energize development of innovative research and programming that will one day lead to a cure for epilepsy.

“We are immensely grateful to Shery, David, Lisa and Michael. Their family’s story touches so many in the epilepsy community,” said CURE founder Susan Axelrod. “Their compassion and generosity in the face of such devasting loss is truly inspiring and will help fuel discoveries in Vivian’s memory that will save others from suffering similar tragedies in the future.”

ABOUT CURE The mission of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) is to find a cure for epilepsy by promoting and funding patient-focused research. Since its inception in 1998, CURE has raised over $60 million to advance its goal of no seizures and no side effects. To date, CURE has awarded more than 220 cutting-edge research projects in 15 countries around the world. CURE is the leading non-governmental agency fully committed to funding research in epilepsy. For information about CURE, please visit our website at: or contact us at:

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) Launches Podcast, Seizing Life

Finding a carefree moment as a parent to a six-year-old and a three-year-old child can feel like a challenge. When your child is diagnosed with epilepsy, those crucial, carefree moments in a marriage come with additional stress and worry.

On the new CURE podcast, Seizing Life, this is one of the topics host Kelly Cervantes discusses with her husband, HAMILTON Chicago star Miguel Cervantes; the rare carefree moments, obstacles and triumphs in their marriage while supporting their daughter who has epilepsy.

Kelly and Miguel Cervantes’ daughter Adelaide had her first seizure when she was just 7-months old. Now fierce advocates for finding a cure, the Cervantes have learned how to adjust to life with Adelaide’s condition while discovering their partner’s strengths and weaknesses along the way.

“Parents are in such a different mental place when it’s not about just regular life things and it becomes about the health and livelihood of your child,” says Miguel Cervantes in an inaugural episode. “Even in our carefree moments, in the back of our minds, we have this baby who is clearly sick and that doesn’t go away.”

Kelly Cervantes, CURE board member will host the weekly podcast, delivering interviews with her husband, best-selling author Kurt Eichenwald, patients, parents, medical professionals and others in the epilepsy community bringing the critical need for epilepsy research to the forefront while teaching empathy and inspiring hope.

“We believe it is vital to share the impact epilepsy has on families,” says Kelly Cervantes, “and to share resources and insights from clinicians, researchers and advocates as we seek a cure for epilepsy.”
You can find the first three episodes of the Seizing Life podcast at

For additional episodes of Seizing Life, subscribe here. You can watch the weekly episodes on video at the Seizing Life YouTube channel.

You can also find Seizing Life on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



The mission of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) is to find a cure for epilepsy, by promoting and funding patient-focused research. Since its inception in 1998, CURE has raised
over $60 million to advance its goal of no seizures and no side effects. To date, CURE has awarded more than 220 cutting-edge research projects in 15 countries around the world. CURE
is the leading nongovernmental agency fully committed to funding research in epilepsy.

For information about CURE, please visit our website at or contact us at


Seizing Life, a weekly CURE podcast hosted by CURE Board Member Kelly Cervantes, brings you inspirational and helpful stories from those impacted by epilepsy. Kelly interviews patients,
advocates, caregivers, and medical professionals to bring the critical need for epilepsy research to the forefront, while teaching empathy and inspiring hope.

For more information about Seizing Life, please visit our website at

CURE Discovery: Predicting Acquired Epilepsy Following a Brain Infection

A potential method of predicting who will get epilepsy following a brain infection, such as that brought on by malaria, has been discovered. This breakthrough is the result of work by two CURE grantees, Dr. Bruce Gluckman and Dr. Steven Schiff of Pennsylvania State University.

Individuals who contract cerebral malaria (malaria accompanied by a coma, typically spread by mosquitos) are at a substantially increased risk of developing epilepsy.1 Malaria is especially widespread in non-industrialized areas of the world and often affects children.2 Because malaria is so widespread, it may be the most significant cause of post-infection epilepsy in the world today. Currently, there are no methods to predict who will develop epilepsy, or any means of preventing epilepsy after such an infection.

This makes Dr. Gluckman and Dr. Schiff’s discovery so critical. Together with their team members Fatemeh Bahari and Dr. Paddy Sstentongo, they found a combination of brain and heart activity in mice that could accurately predict which animals would develop seizures and epilepsy after infection with malaria.3

Using their CURE grant, Drs. Gluckman and Schiff studied the connection between cerebral malaria and epilepsy by first developing a mouse “model” replicating malaria-induced epilepsy. In addition, they investigated possible ways to determine which mice would go on to develop epilepsy after infection.

Using the mice which developed epilepsy after infection with malaria, the research team measured two important variables often associated with epilepsy: the activity of the brain and heart. They found abnormal brain activity immediately followed by abnormal heart activity – but only in the animals which went on to develop epilepsy.

This discovery represents a possible biomarker for predicting epilepsy following infection with malaria. In other words, these may be measurable indicators to determine the infected individuals who will develop epilepsy. Furthermore, the abnormal brain and heart activity was detectable as early as 14 weeks before the first seizure, opening a potential window during which therapeutic interventions might be used to prevent epilepsy.

Drs. Gluckman and Schiff plan to continue this work, using these findings to develop treatment methods for people who contract cerebral malaria to prevent them from developing epilepsy. They are hopeful their discovery will lead to a means to eliminate not only post-malarial epilepsy, but also epilepsy caused by other types of brain injuries.

1 Ngoungou and Preux. Cerebral malaria and epilepsy. Epilepsia 2008; 49(s6):19-24.
2 World Health Organization. World malaria report 2017.
3 Bahari et al. A brain-heart biomarker for epileptogenesis. J Neurosci 2018; pii: 1130-18.

New CURE-Funded Research Projects

Announcing the next round of promising epilepsy research projects funded by the CURE Taking Flight and Innovator Awards! Read on to learn about our latest grantees and their studies.

CURE grants support both early-career and seasoned investigators whose projects are at the forefront of epilepsy research. The grantees’ promising projects aim to find the cures for epilepsy and address the ultimate goal of “no seizures, no side-effects.”

Taking Flight Grantees – $100,000 for 1 year

Jennifer Gelinas, MD, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center 

Treating focal epilepsy is difficult due to the condition’s unpredictability. To identify brain regions at risk of becoming epileptic and provide targets for novel therapeutics, Dr. Gelinas and her team will leverage new technology to acquire high-resolution “maps” of neural networks in animals with progressive focal epilepsy.

Learn More

Juliet Knowles, MD, PhD
Stanford University
Supported by the generosity of the Ravichandran

Dr. Knowles and her team will explore the potential role of white matter in the brain (myelin) in seizure development. The project will determine if seizures cause myelin abnormalities, as well as if abnormal myelin contributes to the development of epilepsy and associated cognitive impairment. This work may help pinpoint new therapeutic targets for absence and other forms of epilepsy.

Learn More

Tristan Shuman, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 

Dr. Shuman’s previous work shows that cells which inhibit neuronal activity turn on at the wrong times in mice with epilepsy. Using state-of-the-art technology, Dr. Shuman and his team will make inhibitory cells fire at the correct times to see if this can reduce seizures and improve memory. This study could lead to new treatment options based on correcting the firing patterns of inhibitory cells.

Learn More

Lakshmi Subramanian, PhD
The Regents of the University of California at San Francisco

Focal Cortical Dysplasia (FCD) is a brain malformation which stems from genetic mutations and leads to epilepsy in children. To understand how FCD develops, Dr. Subramanian and her team plan to explore how genetic mutations lead to the malformations associated with seizures. The study aims to help discover new drug targets and therapeutic interventions.

Learn More

Innovator Award Grantee – $50,000 for 1 year

Jozef Gecz, PhD
University of Adelaide, Australia 

Seizures may cause neurons and supporting cells to die at a much higher rate in a person with epilepsy than in a person without epilepsy. Evidence suggests that dying brain cells cause small amounts of DNA fragments called cfDNA to make their way into blood circulation. Dr. Gecz and his team will investigate genetic causes of epilepsy by isolating cfDNA from patients’ blood in the hours after a seizure.

Learn More


Announcing the 2018 Post-Traumatic Epilepsy Initiative Grantees

Announcing the grant recipients in CURE’s Post-Traumatic Epilepsy Initiative! Read about this team’s innovative projects below:

Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) is a frequent and debilitating complication of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Over 40% of combat troops who suffer severe TBI will develop PTE.

Having secured a $10 million grant from the US Department of Defense, CURE has launched an unprecedented Post-Traumatic Epilepsy Initiative. This initiative is a team science, multi-disciplinary program that will expand the knowledge around the types of injuries that predispose the brain to epilepsy, as well as a develop new models to study epilepsy that results from injury.

Meet CURE’s pioneering Post-Traumatic Epilepsy Initiative team:

Victoria E. Johnson, MBChB, PhD

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Johnson will characterize the relationship between the detrimental neural changes which can follow TBI and the development of PTE. These changes include chronic leakage of the blood-brain barrier, neuronal degeneration, and gliosis. The research team will utilize tissue from humans following TBI, as well as novel models of TBI.

Learn More

Harald Sontheimer, PhD

Virginia Tech

Dr. Sontheimer and his team of collaborators have identified the need for additional animal models of PTE. The team’s hope is that identifying alternative animal models will lead to the discovery of new PTE biomarkers and, eventually, to novel treatments. To identify new animal models, Dr. Sontheimer’s team plans to investigate how TBI leads to PTE in a new mouse model compared to an established one.

Learn More

Kevin Staley, MD

Harvard Medical School

Dr. Staley will test if changes in the brain’s neuronal support system after TBI alter the balance of inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission. His team is also set to explore why PTE following TBI is often difficult to treat. Using highly innovative imaging techniques, Dr. Staley aims to provide new insight into how PTE develops and new methods to identify high-risk patients.

Learn More

Kevin Wang, PhD

University of Florida

Dr. Wang has developed a robust rat model of penetrating TBI to understand how this type of injury can lead to PTE. His team will compare rats that develop PTE to those that do not. The goal is to uncover the unique chemical and molecular processes which lead to PTE following a penetrating TBI. These findings could provide new areas of focus and potential biomarkers for developing treatments.

Learn More

Clinical Trial: A Study to Assess the Safety and Efficacy of Lacosamide Versus Placebo (a Pill Without Active Medication) in Patients With Idiopathic Generalised Epilepsy Who Are Already Taking Anti-epileptic Medications (VALOR)

The VALOR study is investigating whether Lacosamide (Vimpat®)—when taken with current anti-epileptic medicine—helps decrease the number of seizures patients experience. This study enrolls children and adults who are at least 4 years or older, have epilepsy with primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures, had at least 2 seizures in the past 12 weeks, and are on a stable dose of anti-epileptic medicines. Patients have a 50% chance of receiving placebo; they have the opportunity to receive Lacosamide for another two years afterwards in an open-label extension study. The study is running in a total of 23 countries, including the United States.

Eligibility Criteria:

Ages Eligible for Study: 4 Years and older (Child, Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study: All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers: No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Subject with a confirmed diagnosis at least 24 weeks prior to Visit 1 and a disease onset prior to 30 years of age, consistent with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) experiencing primary generalizedtonic-clonic (PGTC) seizures (Type IIE) that are classifiable according to the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Classification of Epileptic Seizures (ILAE, 1981)
  • Subject has 3 PGTC seizures during the 16-week Combined Baseline (12-week Historical Baseline plus 4-week Prospective Baseline)
  • If a brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/computed tomography (CT) scan has been performed, there must be no evidence of any progressive abnormality or any lesion likely to be associated with partial-onset seizures
  • Subject has been maintained on a stable dose regimen of 1 to 2 non-benzodiazepine marketed Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) OR 1 to 3 AEDs (with 1 AED identified as a benzodiazepine) for at least 28 days prior to Visit 1 with or without additional concurrent stable Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)
  • Subjects are required to have had an electroencephalogram (EEG) report consistent with IGE (eg, generalized 3Hz epileptiform discharges and a normal EEG background) confirmed by a Central Reviewer


Exclusion Criteria:

  • History of partial onset seizures or EEG findings indicating partial onset seizures
  • Symptomatic generalized epilepsy, e.g. Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
  • Lifetime history of suicide attempt, or suicidal ideation in past 6 months
  • Women of child bearing potential must practice contraception according to protocol requirements
  • Regular use of clozapine, monoamine oxidase (MAO-A) inhibitors, barbiturates (for indication other than epilepsy) within 28 days prior to Visit 1
  • Use of Vigabatrin within the last 6 months

Mayor Emanuel Interviews Singer, Actor and “Hamilton” Star Miguel Cervantes on “Chicago Stories”

On this week’s episode of “Chicago Stories” the star of Chicago’s “Hamilton” Miguel Cervantes gives Mayor Emanuel his take on the smash-hit musical, shares the story of his hard-won career, and talks about his biggest role of all as “Dad” and raising awareness for childhood epilepsy.

Born and raised in Dallas, Miguel wasn’t interested in theater growing up, at least not at first, but an audition for a local production in sixth grade planted the first step to a journey that took him to Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Emerson College, and then finally the bright lights of Broadway?—?or so he thought.

“When I graduated I went right to New York as the big fish in my school,” Miguel said. “I thought: ‘this is great, this is easy, this is going to be awesome,’ and then crash and burn.”

As Miguel told Mayor Emanuel, he wasn’t ready. (Though, as Mayor Emanuel told Miguel, the real problem was New York wasn’t ready for him.)

After a brief return home, Miguel hooked up with friends in Boston and embarked on an artistic rebirth that eventually brought him back to the Big Apple, but this time to a mix of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring productions.

“Opportunity comes at its own pace,” Miguel said, “and sometimes your opportunity is not when you’re 21 when you think you’re ready?—?that may not be the right time for you.”

For Miguel, opportunity came in a big way in 2016 when the mega-hit “Hamilton” was looking to recast its famous title role. Immediately once auditions started, Miguel could tell something was different.

“Three weeks later, after four auditions, I called my wife and said ‘I think we’re moving to Chicago,’” Miguel said.

Miguel’s biggest role of all though has been as “Dad” to his six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter Adelaide, who at seven-months-old was diagnosed with epilepsy just as “Hamilton” was coming into his life.

As devastating as childhood epilepsy is, the news got worse after doctors discovered Adelaide had “infantile spasms,” a particularly devastating form of epilepsy that can lead to severe developmental and cognitive delays.

Not knowing where to go or who to turn to, Miguel and his wife Kelly connected with the Chicago-based Citizens United in Research for Epilepsy, or “CURE,” the nation’s largest non-governmental organization funding epilepsy research.

“We got here terrified, just absolutely terrified,” Miguel told Mayor Emanuel. “And we come to Chicago and the folks at CURE wrapped their arms around us and said ‘we got you here.’”

Since then both Miguel and Kelly have become passionate advocates for epilepsy awareness through CURE, including their My Shot at Epilepsy fundraising campaign and the #MyShotAtEpilepsy Challenge.

Today, 3.4 million Americans suffer from epilepsy, including 470,000 children, while an estimated 65 million people currently life with epilepsy worldwide. Meanwhile, research is still underfunded, and comprehensive treatment for families like the Cervantes’ is still a long way off.

“What we say is we may not be able to do so much for [Adelaide]—what we can actually achieve in her life may be limited,” Miguel said, “but if we raise our voices and do everything that we can, at some point some parents will not have to go through what we have to go through.”

Be sure to listen to the full episode as Miguel and Mayor Emanuel talk about the impact of “Hamilton,” Chicago’s theater community and culture of giving back, and where Miguel hopes opportunity takes him next.

You can check out the full episode on iTunesSoundCloud, and Spotify.