The Epilepsy Foundation is thrilled to announce that Duke University has won a $25 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) to lead a multi-partner genomics study aimed at finding the genetic basis of epilepsy. Historically, the Epilepsy Foundation has worked closely with Congress to support strong funding for organizations like NINDS, that perform vital research and make breakthroughs in the field of epilepsy. Advocacy for appropriation of NIH funding towards these initiatives has been longstanding at EFA, and the foundation recognizes that innovative collaboration through the NINDS Center Without Walls program is critical to the success of progress against epilepsy.
Duke will use the NINDS grant, funded through the NINDS Epilepsy Center Without Walls on Human Genetics initiative, to analyze the genomes of 4,000 epilepsy patients, with samples provided by clinics around the world. The genomics effort will be performed by the Duke's Center for Human Genome Variation, and it is being run administratively by scientists at Duke, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Melbourne.
The Centers Without Walls grants were implemented because the epilepsy patient and advocacy community and the NINDS agreed that often the best research results often come from collaborations of researchers working around the world to solve a problem together.
NINDS released the Center Without Walls request for applications in 2010. It will fund a multidisciplinary team of investigators who work together to discover the factors that contribute to Mendelian and complex epilepsies. The aim is to develop a better understanding of the genetic factors involved in epilepsy, which could enable researchers to translate genomics into biological diagnostics, individualized treatments, and target identification for development of new therapeutics.
"This grant allows us to study the genomes of epilepsy patients on a sufficiently large scale … [and] we should be able to identify many new genes involved in the risk of epilepsy," David Goldstein, director of the Duke Center for Human Genome Variation and a professor of molecular genetics, said in a statement. "Our hope is that these discoveries will provide validated targets for the development of new drugs and will help to determine how best to treat each individual patient based on their own genetic profile."
The other research institutes participating in the center include Columbia University Medical Center; the University of Washington; the University of Liverpool; Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Melbourne; Emory University; Imperial College London; The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; the University of Montreal; and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.