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.