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.