November 1, 2021

Grantees Announcement Fall 2021

Today, November 1st is the start of Epilepsy Awareness Month and CURE Epilepsy is celebrating with two incredible announcements.

This afternoon at 4pm Eastern | 3pm Central | 2pm Mountain | 1pm Pacific we will be ringing the Closing Bell® at the New York Stock Exchange to bring awareness of this challenging condition that impacts over 3.4 million Americans and 65 million people worldwide.

We are also excited to announce our 2021 CURE Epilepsy grantees. Our grants are awarded for novel research projects that seek to find cures for epilepsy and address the goal of “no seizures, no side-effects.” Each year, grants are funded based on promising trends in the field and the potential for breakthroughs in a specified area.

This year’s group of talented grantees will be focusing their research on sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), sleep and epilepsy, acquired epilepsy, pediatrics, and basic mechanisms that provide the foundational understanding of what causes epilepsy.

TAKING FLIGHT AWARD GRANTEES – $100,000 for one year

This award promotes the careers of young investigators to allow them to develop a research focus independent of their mentors.

Ana Beatriz DePaula-Silva, PhD,

The University of Utah

Dr. DePaula-Silva will study the brain-gut connection in acquired epilepsy caused by a viral infection. She will identify specific gut bacterial populations, also known as microbiota, and molecules produced by the bacteria that may play a role in preventing seizure development.


Joanna Mattis, MD, PhD

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Mattis will study neuromodulatory neurons located in an area of the brain called the brainstem and will test whether these neurons coordinate the transition between normal brain activity and seizures.


Rina Zelmann, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Zelmann will study specific brain electrical patterns called high frequency oscillations (HFOs) to determine if they can be used as biomarkers of abnormal brain activity before seizures develop.


CURE EPILEPSY AWARD GRANTEES – $250,000 over two years

This award is for established researchers that focuses on scientific advances that have the potential to truly transform the lives of those affected by epilepsy.

Asla Pitkanen, MD, PhD

University of Eastern Finland

Dr. Pitkänen and her team have identified potential drugs that could reverse or prevent changes caused by traumatic brain injury. The goal of this study is to assess whether the most promising of these compounds will prevent the development of epilepsy in a model of post-traumatic epilepsy.


David Auerbach, PhD

SUNY Upstate Medical University

Dr. Auerbach’s team will use analytical tools that are well accepted in the cardiac field, but new to the study of epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) to identify epilepsy patient populations at risk of cardiac-mediated SUDEP.


Nigel Pedersen, MD

Emory University

Dr. Pedersen’s team will study whether brain regions that control sleep-wake also control seizures. The team will directly study electrical activity in parts of the brain that control sleep and wakefulness, and brain regions involved in seizures.


Stefan Barakat, MD, PhD

Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Dr. Barakat and his team will use human cell models and zebrafish to develop novel therapies for specific epileptic encephalopathies by targeting metabolic processes that may underlie these forms of epilepsy.


CATALYST AWARD GRANTEES – $250,000 over two years

This award is for research that supports nimble development of new transformative therapies for epilepsy, where a positive outcome could lead to a clinical trial.

Ruth Westenbroek, PhD

University of Washington

Using a genetic model of Dravet syndrome, Dr. Westenbroek’s lab will test newly developed inhibitors that act on sodium channels called Nav1.6 and Nav1.2. These drugs may be beneficial over traditional sodium channel blockers with fewer side effects.


Rodrigo Gutierrez-Quintana, MVZ, MVM, DipECVN, MRCVS

University of Glasgow

Dr. Gutierrez-Quintana’s team will test the effects of a new type of drug called microRNA in a population of dogs with naturally occurring drug-resistant epilepsy, an important step towards translating findings into treatments for humans.





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