Epilepsy Research UK & Young Epilepsy - Joint Fellowship

The unique research collaboration aims to improve epilepsy treatment for young people by addressing the causes, prevention and clinical management of childhood epilepsies.

There are approximately 112,000 children and young people with epilepsy in the UK. Epilepsies that start in childhood are associated with significant associated conditions affecting learning, motor control, cognition and behaviour. An epileptic seizure may be the first sign of a brain disorder, but it is the impact of the underlying condition on learning, behaviour, and participation in society that may result in the most disabling consequences for the child and family.

Anti-seizure medications are designed to control events but disappointingly have little or no, and in some cases a negative, impact on the associated neurodevelopmental conditions of epilepsy.

Following ERUK’s International Expert Workshop on Epilepsy and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, a commitment was made to prioritising research to drive innovations in the treatment of childhood epilepsies to reduce the impact of the condition on children and their families and carers.

Professor Helen Cross OBE, Prince of Wales’s Chair of Childhood Epilepsy, President of ERUK and Young Epilepsy Trustee says, “Contributing to research into the childhood onset epilepsies and associated comorbidities, an often-neglected area, offers a real chance of making a difference to children with epilepsy and their families.”

Young Epilepsy’s research programme, under Professor Cross, drives collaborations that investigate the causes, treatments and impact of childhood epilepsy. The programme is focussed on better outcomes through early diagnosis and intervention in every aspect of childhood epilepsy.

Building on the strategic priorities of both organisations, ERUK and Young Epilepsy are combining forces by announcing this joint Award. From May 2020 the charities will be inviting high quality Fellowship applications to address the causes, prevention and clinical management of childhood epilepsies.

Fundamental to the partnership will be engagement with the Young Epilepsy Young Reps, a panel of children and young people living with epilepsy, who will be asked to prioritise areas they would like to see answered by research. The outcomes from the engagement with children and young people with epilepsy will influence the decision-making criteria when awarding the joint fellowship.

Young Epilepsy CEO, Mark Devlin says, “Young people understandably want more answers to the impact of epilepsies on their lives. This research fellowship is an exciting opportunity to improve current knowledge, potentially contributing to the development of new diagnostic techniques and more effective treatments”.

Maxine Smeaton, Epilepsy Research UK CEO, says, “Epilepsy in childhood can have a life changing impact on families. We are working on research into new drug therapies to reduce seizures and the associated side effects and help families manage the condition – but we are also investing in pioneering research that offer a very real possibility of preventing epilepsy in the future”