This year’s Research Recognition Award from the Swiss League Against Epilepsy goes to two projects from Geneva and Zurich, both of which are focussing on brain wave measurement. If successful, they could not only improve diagnoses but also treatment options. The award is endowed with a total of CHF 25,000.

Filippo Costa, Debora Ledergerber, Eric Ménétré (l. to r.)

Filippo Costa, Debora Ledergerber, Eric Ménétré (l. to r.)

June 2024 – The Epilepsy League’s Research Recognition Award has been won by two projects in 2024, both of which aim to improve the evaluation and interpretation of EEGs. The electroencephalogram, or EEG for short, is at the heart of epilepsy diagnostics. It measures brain waves, usually at the surface of the skull, and provides important information, such as whether treatment is necessary after a first epileptic seizure or where in the brain the seizures occur. There is still potential for improvement in prognoses based on EEGs, and the two award-winning projects are exploring this in different ways.

Recognizing patterns more efficiently

Half the prize money goes to Filippo Costa (University of Zurich) and Debora Ledergerber, Ph.D. (Klinik Lengg), both located in Zurich. They are researching «Neuromorphic real-time detection of patient-specific epileptiform patterns».

Neuromorphic computing is an approach that involves designing software modelled on the human brain. The research team has already succeeded in developing an algorithm which can recognize epilepsy signals in an EEG and record them in a highly compressed form. Now they want to develop it further so it can be used over periods of several hours during cognition tests and epilepsy monitoring. The algorithm signals can be displayed in real time, so experienced epileptologists can continuously monitor and improve the results.

In the medium term it is conceivable that the algorithm could be used with implantable electrodes for long-term monitoring. Feedback from the device could then be used to tailor individual treatments more precisely and give treating physicians the opportunity to quantify the epileptiform patterns over a longer period.

«If the algorithm gives feedback in real time over several hours, or with an implant even over several months of EEG recording, then one day thanks to this data patients might be able to return to driving sooner, or brain stimulation could be used explicitly when it is needed,» says President of the Epilepsy League, Prof. Dr. med. Barbara Tettenborn.

Measuring epilepsy networks individually

Eric Ménétré (Ph.D.) from HUG, the University Hospital of Geneva, wins the other half of the prize money for his project «Development of a pipeline to determine EEG connectivity on an individual level». Previous studies have shown that epileptic networks in the brain can be identified, even in a visually normal EEG, i.e. without a clearly identifiable epileptic focus.

The novelty behind this project lies in the use of these measurements at an individual level. Using existing and new data, the individual brain networks of the examined patients will be computed and visualised. In addition, a self-learning system («machine learning») could use this information to locate the epilepsy focus.

If the project is successful, EEG connectivity could be routinely analysed in clinical practice in the future. The new tool could not only help to better diagnose and treat epilepsy, but also improve prognoses after a stroke or in cases of dementia. «Perhaps this project is the first step towards precision EEG medicine,» comments Barbara Tettenborn.

The awards will be presented on 6 June 2024 in Basel at the Annual Meeting of the Swiss Neurological Society, where the Epilepsy League is the guest society. The award session will be followed by the Epilepsy League’s General Assembly.

Call for applications for 2025 awards

The Research Recognition Award (research grant) from the Swiss League Against Epilepsy totals CHF 25,000. It is awarded annually to researchers working in Switzerland as start-up funding for larger research projects. Applications from researchers carrying out studies on causes of and therapies for epilepsies are especially welcome.

Further information and guidelines:

The Epilepsy League will also be accepting applications shortly for the Alfred Hauptmann Award, which comes with prize money of €20,000 and is for the best research publications.

Further information:


Applications are open until 31 December 2024.