Epilepsy researchers in Bern, Geneva and Zurich are receiving recog­ni­tion and finan­cial support for their work. This year’s Epilepsy League Research Recog­ni­tion Award is shared between two projects, while the Alfred Haupt­mann Award from all three German-speaking epilepsy associ­a­tions also goes to Swiss recipients. 

June 2021 — The 2021 Epilepsy League Research Recog­ni­tion Award and prize money of CHF 25,000 has been won by two researchers: PD Dr. Dr. Georgia Raman­tani from Univer­sity Hospital Zurich for her project on child sleep EEGs, and PD Dr. Dr. Frédéric Zubler from the Univer­sity Hospital (Insel­spital) in Bern for his research into AI-assisted EEG evaluation.

The Alfred Haupt­mann Award for the best exper­i­mental or clinical research in the field of epilep­tology in German-speaking countries goes to Dr. Maxime Baud (Bern) and Dr. Timothée Proix (Geneva) for their article «Forecasting seizure risk in adults with focal epilepsy: a devel­op­ment and valida­tion study», which was published in Lancet Neurology in 2020. In simple terms they devel­oped a kind of «weather forecast» for people with epilepsy. A device implanted in the brain measures neuronal excitability and can thus predict when a seizure is likely.

The Alfred Haupt­mann Award is presented every two years by the German and Austrian epilep­tology associ­a­tions together with the Swiss Epilepsy League. It comes with prize money of EUR 10,000, which is donated by UCB. The award is named after the German neurol­o­gist Alfred Haupt­mann, who had to emigrate from Germany in 1933.

Recog­nizing research: reading brain­waves better

Both of the projects which have jointly won the Epilepsy League’s Research Recog­ni­tion Award indepen­dently inves­ti­gate the measure­ment of brain­waves using an EEG, a key diagnosis tool for epilepsy.

Georgia Ramantani’s Zurich project «Sleep homeostasis affects scalp HFO rates in pediatric epilepsy» is researching in which stages of sleep high frequency oscil­la­tions (HFO) occur in children. Measured using an EEG, these HFO are consid­ered a promising biomarker for more accurate diagnosis and more targeted treat­ment of children with epilepsy.

Frédéric Zubler from the Insel­spital in Bern wants to develop a deep-learning system to evaluate EEG measure­ments. Special­ists still have to spend a lot of time evalu­ating EEG curves, essen­tially all on an individual basis. A self-learning system that could train itself using large quanti­ties of data and identify various anomalies could support and enhance this process.

The awards will be presented at this year’s annual meeting of the Epilepsy League, which is taking place on 19 August 2021 in Basel (Basler Epilep­si­etag). As Frédéric Zubler is an Epilepsy League board member, the Research Commis­sion sought two indepen­dent reports before making the decision to select him as a joint winner of the award.

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