For the first time, the Research Recognition Award from the Swiss League Against Epilepsy goes to two projects headed up by women. Both are young scientists, one from Lausanne, the other from Geneva. Their projects investigate the use of scientific methods to improve the diagnosis of status epilepticus and of non-epileptic seizures to enable more targeted treatment. This award carries prize money of CHF 25,000 in total.

Isabelle Beuchat
Isabelle Beuchat

Laureate Research Recognition Award 2022

September 2022 – Epilepsies come in many different guises and are thus not always easy to recognize. To complicate matters, events known as non-epileptic seizures can easily be mistaken for epileptic seizures. This means that diagnosing epilepsies is often a challenge, and patients frequently receive incorrect treatment.

Clear diagnoses will benefit those affected

Both winners of the 2022 Epilepsy League Research Recognition Award are working to facilitate better diagnoses. The total prize money for the award is CHF 25,000, which will be split this year between two recipients.

Isabelle Beuchat from Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) is conducting a project entitled «Seizure biomarkers after non-epileptic events», which will investigate routine blood tests and markers that indicate that someone has had an epileptic seizure. It is thought that these markers (lactate and creatine kinase levels) very likely also rise after a «non-epileptic» psychogenic convulsive event.

More detailed knowledge about these biomarkers should help medical professionals make more accurate diagnoses. «This interdisciplinary project can reduce misdiagnoses and help identify more useful biomarkers that can then be introduced into routine clinical practice,» says Barbara Tettenborn, President of the Epilepsy League.

Isabelle Beuchat
Pia De Stefano

Laureate Research Recognition Award 2022

The title of the second award-winning project, headed up by Pia De Stefano who works at Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), is «Detection and outcome of early non-convulsive status epilepticus following cardiac arrest». Patients in a coma who have had a cardiac arrest can have «silent» prolonged non-convulsive epileptic seizures (“status epilepticus”). Even on intensive care units, only an EEG can accurately detect such seizures and allow them to be treated rapidly. It is currently not standard routine to conduct an EEG during the initial hours after a cardiac arrest on non-sedated patients who are still comatose. «A successful outcome to this study could significantly improve the recovery prospects of such critically ill patients,» says Barbara Tettenborn.

The awards will be presented in Basel on 30 September 2022 at the Congress of the Swiss Federation of Clinical Neuro-Societies (SFCNS).

Three 2023 awards open for applications

The Epilepsy League is inviting applications for three awards to be presented in 2023. The Alfred Hauptmann Award for the best experimental or clinical research now comes with prize money of €20,000 – previously the amount was €10,000. Half the prize money will be awarded to the author of a basic research document that has been published, while the other half will be awarded in the field of clinical research. This has been made possible thanks to new sponsors: the award is now supported by the companies UCB-Pharma, Desitin Pharma, Arvelle/Angelini Pharma and GW/Jazz Pharmaceuticals.
The Alfred Hauptmann Award is presented every two years by the German and Austrian epileptology associations together with the Swiss Epilepsy League. It is named after the German neurologist Alfred Hauptmann, who had to emigrate from Germany in 1933.
More about the award:

A second award scheduled for next year is the Prize for Best Dissertation, which goes to the best master’s or doctoral thesis from a Swiss university in the field of epileptology and carries prize money of CHF 1,000. Applications are welcome from all disciplines. So as well as medical students, anyone writing a thesis in the field of epilepsy is invited to apply, for example students of psychology or pharmacology.

Further information in French

Finally, applications are also open for the 2023 Research Recognition Award, presented by the Swiss League Against Epilepsy with prize money of CHF 25,000. It is awarded annually to researchers working in Switzerland as start-up funding for research projects. Preference is given to those who are researching causes of and therapies for epilepsies.

Applications for all three awards are open until 31 December 2022.