AURORA, Colo. - The University of Colorado launched a lecture series to bring awareness of cutting-edge research in epilepsy to scientists across the country. One lecture in the series was sponsored by Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE). CURE was founded by parents of children with epilepsy who wanted to raise awareness and money to find a cure.
CURE has raised millions of dollars to find a cure for this neurological disorder characterized by seizures. In many cases, the cause of the seizures is never identified and approximately 30 percent of people with epilepsy cannot manage their seizures with medication. Making it even more complicated, epilepsy is not a single disorder. It is a series of conditions with different symptoms involving abnormal electrical activity in the brain and seizures.
The seminar series is 10 lectures every year. The presentation at CU Anschutz Medical Campus by an eminent epilepsy researcher, Dr. Ivan Soltesz was the inaugural seminar. The goal is to get epilepsy into programs, especially grand rounds and seminar series, throughout the country.
CURE is committed to getting young trainees interested in epilepsy research. CURE has funded the research of Manisha Patel, PhD, professor at CU’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences who served as the local host for the seminar. She noted that “CURE has been a passionate advocate for epilepsy awareness and research. This seminar series is a great example of their efforts to highlight innovative research in the field and recruit new investigators.” Patel is leading a team of investigators to find a cure for infantile spasms, a rare childhood epilepsy syndrome. Infantile Spasms can have negative long-term consequences and the treatments currently available are often ineffective.
CURE founder/chair Susan Axelrod and associate research director Tracy Dixon-Salazar attended the lecture. Axelrod and Dixon-Salazar each have a daughter with epilepsy. Dixon-Salazar’s went to college, eventually earning a PhD, to learn everything she could about epilepsy. She discovered her daughter Savannah’s seizures were tied to calcium. Since making that discovery, a medication used for other purposes has helped reduce Savannah’s seizures by 95 percent.
(Photo: Left to right Tracy Dixon-Salazar, CURE; Ivan Soltesz, University of California Irvine; Manisha Patel, CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy; and Susan Axelrod, CURE)