Amendment Passes Senate to Continue DOD Medical Research Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Two provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act threatened to affect important medical research funded by the Department of Defense (DOD). Thanks to the efforts of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and the voices of advocates like CURE through the Research, Not Red Tape initiative, an amendment passed in the Senate in early June to protect this funding so it can continue to support breakthrough research for active service members, military families, and veterans.

This is especially important as it applies to the new, multidisciplinary, team science initiative CURE is developing in collaboration with the DOD to advance the understanding of epilepsy as a result of traumatic brain injuries, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CURE To Expand Work With Veterans’ Epilepsy Thanks To Department Of Defense Grant

Chicago, IL- Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy today announced that it will create a new research program and focus with a grant of approximately 10 million dollars over 5 years to go toward epilepsy research in veterans with traumatic brain injury. The grant was awarded by the Department of Defense, Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program, award number W81XWH-15-2-0069.

The grant will support a team approach to researching the prevention and treatment of Post-Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE). The incidence of epilepsy in active service members increased by an alarming 52 percent from 2006 to 2010.Approximately 8 percent of those afflicted have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) , making it the most common predisposing condition. Twenty-four percent of military-related epilepsy is associated with prior TBI.

“Our veterans deserve much better after serving our country,” said Susan Axelrod, founding chair of CURE.  “In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the “signature wound” was traumatic brain injury. Those who suffer severe TBI face up to a 50 percent chance of developing Post-Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE), with the symptoms of epilepsy (seizures) manifesting themselves immediately or even up to fifteen years post-injury.   At CURE we are committed to exploring the complex underlying mechanisms of post-traumatic epilepsy and ways to treat it more effectively and one day even prevent it entirely.”

“CURE applauds the U.S. Department of Defense for dedicating this significant amount of resources to epilepsy research,” said Robin Harding, Chief Executive Officer. “We are grateful to those who back our effort to find a cure for this disease through research and by increasing awareness of epilepsy’s prevalence and devastating consequences for patients and their families.  Investing in research is the cornerstone of discovery and an ultimate cure.”

“The next great breakthrough is not going to come from a single researcher working in isolation,” said Julie Milder, PhD, Associate Research Director at CURE and Program Officer for the DOD grant. “We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and its ability to move science forward faster.  We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to move team science into the area of post-traumatic epilepsy– one that is desperate for greater understanding.”

Next steps for the program include convening a meeting of key opinion leaders in epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and veterans’ health to determine opportunities of biggest impact over the next five years. The outcomes of the meeting will serve as the basis for the development of a targeted team science research program which will be announced through a request for applications in late spring.