Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy: Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: This funder awards grants to early career and advanced researchers working not only to treat epilepsy, but uncover its causes and find a cure. There are three awards offered in two annual grant cycles, and a couple of other funding initiatives as well.

IP TAKE: Consider pitching an epilepsy research project that is focused on treatments for patients who are pharmacoresistant, treatment of severe pediatric epilepsies, or cases that result in sudden death.

PROFILE: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) has a grantmaking program for research projects that work toward finding a cure for epilepsy and eliminating seizures and side effects. This is the leading nongovernmental agency funding epilepsy research. In 1998, Susan Axelrod and other parents of children with epilepsy established the foundation out of frustration and their inability to protect their children from this disease.

This funder supports projects globally, funding over 180 projects in 13 countries in its first 17 years. One of CURE’s most prominent grantmaking opportunities is the CURE Epilepsy Award, which is worth $250,000 and has the following key priority areas: (1) basic mechanisms of epilepsy; (2) acquired epilepsies; (3) pediatric epilepsies; (4) Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP); and (5) treatment-resistant epilepsies. Other grant opportunities include the $100,000 Taking Flight Award to promote the careers of young epilepsy researchers, the $50,000 Innovator Award for a new concept or untested theory, the Advancing Understanding of Infantile Spasms program that awards grant up to $5 million, and the Post-Traumatic Epilepsy Award, for up to $8.4 million.

CURE launched a new program called the Epilepsy Genetics Initiative in May 2014 with an initial investment of $1 million. The purpose of this program is to create an interactive database to which patients contribute their genetic data for analysis by a pool of researchers who can identify the cause of their epilepsy. The principal sponsor of this initiative is the John and Barbara Vogelstein Foundation.

This funder is a leading supporter of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) research and awarded 21 of these grants totaling over $2 million between 2002 and 2015. Another initiative is the Infantile Spasms (IS) Research Initiative, which funds researchers that collaborate with other investigators on this rare childhood epilepsy syndrome. An important issue for CURE is not simply treating seizures, but getting to the root causes of the diseases to pave the way for innovative treatments and cures.

Grant decisions are made by an internal team of scientists comprised of a Scientific Advisory Council with five epilepsy specialists and over 300 scientist volunteers. The foundation also includes lay reviewers in its grant review process to stay on target with its mission. There are two grant cycles per year, and the submission process begins with a letter of intent. Early career and advanced independent investigators in any country can submit a LOI for work at academic and non-academic laboratories, universities, companies and nonprofit research institutions.

To be notified when new RFAs are released or just with general grantmaking or program questions, reach out to Grants Administrator Liz Higgins at Liz@CUREepilepsy.org or via phone at 312-255-1801.

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