This year the Swiss League Against Epilepsy’s Research Recog­ni­tion Award, worth CHF 25,000, has gone to a team from Geneva, while the Alfred Haupt­mann Award of EUR 10,000 for the best exper­i­mental or clinical research in the field of epilep­tology in German-speaking countries is split between researchers based in Freiburg, Basel and Geneva for their articles published in “Cerebral Cortex” and “Neurology”.

(Vienna) On 4 May 2017, during its joint Annual Meeting with the German and Austrian epilep­tology associ­a­tions, the Swiss League Against Epilepsy presented two awards.

In 2017, the Research Recog­ni­tion Award (formerly known as the Research Grant) presented annually by the Swiss League Against Epilepsy and worth CHF 25,000 goes to Dr. Charles Quairiaux, Dr. Abbas Khani and Prof. Christoph Michel of the Depart­ment of Basic Neuro­sciences at the Univer­sity of Geneva. The title of the award-winning project is “Decreasing suscep­ti­bility of the epileptic networks by suppres­sion of fast ripples in a mouse-model of temporal lobe epilepsy”. Fast ripples are high frequency oscil­la­tions in the brain that can be detected by an EEG. They are partic­u­larly associ­ated with temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common form of epilepsy in adults. One day, targeted electrical impulses could be used to suppress these ripples. In the perfect scenario this would not only prevent seizures but also protect and perhaps even help heal other regions of the brain.

The cross-border Alfred Haupt­mann Award for epilep­tology research, worth EUR 10,000, has this year been awarded to Swiss researchers for the first time since 2009. Half the award money will be shared between Dr. Gian Marco De Marchis (Basel Univer­sity Hospital) and Dr. Deborah Pugin (HUG Geneva) for their article “Seizure burden in subarach­noid hemor­rhage associ­ated with functional and cogni­tive outcome” (Neurology 2016;86:253–60). In this article they showed that electroen­cephalo­graphic (EEG) monitoring of patients with subarach­noid hemor­rhage, a specific type of stroke, is worth­while as it can ensure that undetected epileptic seizures do not affect recovery.

The other half of the award money goes to neuro­bi­ol­o­gist Prof. Carola Haas of the Freiburg im Breisgau Univer­sity Medical Center for the publi­ca­tion “Whole Transcip­tome Screening Reveals Myeli­na­tion Deficits in Dysplastic Human Temporal Neocortex” (Cerebral Cortex, 27(2):1558–1572). Together with her team she inves­ti­gated the link between malfor­ma­tions of the cerebral cortex, known as focal cortical dysplasias, and epilepsy.

The Alfred Haupt­mann Award is presented every two years by the Swiss League Against Epilepsy together with the German and Austrian epilep­tology associ­a­tions. The prize money is donated by UCB. The award is named after German neurol­o­gist Alfred Haupt­mann, who discov­ered the anticon­vul­sant efficacy of pheno­bar­bital in 1912 and had to emigrate from Germany in 1933 because of his Jewish origins.

In the coming year, the Swiss League Against Epilepsy will once again support research into epilepsy: with its annual Research Recog­ni­tion Award of CHF 25,000 it offers start-up funding for research projects for the advance­ment of exper­i­mental or clinical research in the field of epileptology.

Full refer­ences: De Marchis GM, Pugin D, Meyers E, Velasquez A, Suwatcha­rangkoon S, Park S, Falo MC, Agarwal S, Mayer S, Schmidt JM, Connolly ES and Claassen J. Seizure burden in subarach­noid hemor­rhage associ­ated with functional and cogni­tive outcome. Neurology. 2016;86:253–60.