At the February 4, 2010, meeting of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Brandy Fureman, Ph.D., program director at NINDS, proposed a new initiative for promoting epilepsy research in innovative ways. The proposal, titled “Accelerating Research in the Epilepsies,” was approved immediately by the Council.

The Epilepsy Foundation commends Dr. Fureman and Dr. Story Landis, director of NINDS, for their vision and commitment to epilepsy research. The concept for the new research initiative took shape after discussions among epilepsy groups including the American Epilepsy Society, CURE, the Epilepsy Foundation, and the Epilepsy Therapy Project. The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his staff were also instrumental in the process.

The initiative will include the following:

NINDS Centers without Walls Program – Based on a successful model used in other NIH Institutes, these new Centers will promote a virtual opportunity for collaborative research to solve specific challenges identified as priorities.

Translational Research Program for the Epilepsies – This program will focus on grant opportunities in critical areas such as epilepsy prevention and treatment-resistant epilepsy. Many of the grant topics will be based on the benchmarks established at conferences sponsored by NINDS in 2000 and 2007 on curing epilepsy.

EUREKA grants – The Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration program, or EUREKA, will be a set of special grants to support highly innovative and novel approaches in epilepsy research.

Now that the initiative is underway, NINDS staff will begin creating a timeline for the new grant opportunities. An upcoming meeting of the newly expanded Epilepsies Working Group will facilitate discussion and further planning. The Epilepsy Foundation will be there, along with others from the epilepsy community including AES, CURE, the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, Epilepsy Therapy Project and other federal partners.

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