The Epilepsy Project and Epilepsy Foundation Fund The STAR Research Program Focused on Genetic and Molecular Mechanisms of Epile

Grant Awarded to CURE to Support Study of Human Brain Tissue in Developing Epilepsy Treatments and Cures

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The Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation, non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of epilepsy patients, today announced the award of a grant to CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) to support the STAR (Share Tissue, Advance Research) Epilepsy Tissue Exchange Program. STAR, a program developed by CURE and the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI), a non-profit, federally-funded organization and nationwide leader in tissue procurement, provides a means of collecting invaluable human brain tissue resected during epilepsy surgery as a resource for researchers studying and developing treatments and cures for epilepsy. Separately, The Epilepsy Project is also announcing today three inaugural recipients of the New Therapy Grants Program, the organization’s joint translational research initiative with the Epilepsy Foundation.

“While there have been some significant preclinical advances in epilepsy research in the past several years, it is unclear whether these findings will actually translate to humans; and we still don’t have answers to the causes of epilepsy,” said Susan Axelrod, Co-Chair, President, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, (CURE), and mother of a 23 year old with epilepsy. “It is our aim with the STAR Epilepsy Tissue Exchange Program for epilepsy research to move beyond animal studies to the patient. With funding from The Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation, and unprecedented collaborations with medical centers skilled in epilepsy surgery, the STAR program is bridging the gap to find a cure for epilepsy.”

“Supporting CURE’s efforts in establishing the STAR program furthers our mission at The Epilepsy Project to fund both infrastructure and translational research that will advance new therapies for people living with epilepsy,” said May Liang, Executive Director of The Epilepsy Project. “Understanding the causes of epilepsy is fundamental to the future of epilepsy research and discovery of new therapeutic approaches and solutions. The STAR program is an invaluable resource for the epilepsy scientific community, and we are pleased to partner with CURE and the NDRI in support of this pioneering initiative.”

“The STAR program represents a new opportunity for scientists to uncover the causes of epilepsy in man,” stated Eric R. Hargis, President and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “It is our aim to provide meaningful grants to accelerate scientific progress in the field of epilepsy, and we are pleased, along with The Epilepsy Project, to fund CURE’s innovative program.”

Founded with seed funding from CURE and its partnership with NDRI, the STAR program has been operational in an initial pilot phase since early 2004. The program seeks to accelerate the discovery of the causes of human epilepsy in order to advance epilepsy research toward a cure. The first of its kind, the STAR program matches donated human tissue collected from epilepsy surgery and autopsy, which would otherwise go to waste, to the requirements of qualified epilepsy researchers nationwide. The program provides the tissue along with confidential access to relevant patient medical history and clinical data collected and stored in the NDRI database. Direct tissue analysis facilitates the study of underlying causes of the many forms of the disorder including: molecular events that lead to epileptogenesis, the cellular mechanisms of antiepileptic drug resistance, as well as the correlation of specific tissue pathologies with particular gene expression as determined by recent studies on peripheral blood in epilepsy patients. Patients or families can contact NDRI or CURE to donate tissue when they plan surgery or at the time of death.

Support from The Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation, with a joint award of $50,000, enables STAR to expand its efforts during its second year.

About STAR
Founded by CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) and its partnership with the leading tissue procurement program in the country, NDRI (National Research Disease Interchange), the STAR Epilepsy Tissue Exchange Program was formed to help epilepsy researchers access a reliable source of human tissues from both epilepsy and control donors—resources they might need most to cross the bridge to a cure for epilepsy. The program is managed by NDRI as well as a steering committee which includes the president of CURE and leading neurologists and neurosurgeons from such institutions as Yale University School of Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. For more information, or to make a monetary or tissue donation, please visit, or call 800-680-STAR.

About CURE
CURE—Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy—is a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for epilepsy by raising funds for research and by increasing awareness of the prevalence and devastation of this disease. CURE was founded by parents of children with epilepsy who were frustrated with their inability to protect their children from the devastation of seizures and the side effects of medications. Since its inception in 1998, CURE has raised $2.5 million to fund research and other initiatives that will lead the way to a cure for epilepsy. CURE provides grant support to epilepsy researchers through a unique peer-review grant program that seeks to identify research projects that can accelerate the search for cures for epilepsy in all its forms, but with an emphasis on pediatric epilepsies. To date, CURE has awarded 26 cutting edge projects. For more information, please visit

About NDRI
NDRI—National Research Disease Interchange—is a non-profit, federally funded organization with over twenty years of experience dedicated to the identification, retrieval and delivery of normal and diseased human tissue for biomedical research purposes and therapeutic development. NDRI facilitates scientific advancement in the fields of biochemistry, cell biology, drug discovery, development and toxicology, immunology, molecular genetics, ophthalmology and orthopedics, among others. Over 300 studies are currently supported, and approximately 20,000 tissues are supplied annually by NDRI. NDRI uniquely works with major eye and tissue banks, hospitals, medical centers, organ procurement organizations (OPOs), pathology services, and epilepsy surgical centers nationwide. With over 200 collection sites around the country, NDRI ensures accurate and timely coordination between donors, researchers and specimens. For more information, please visit

About the Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against epilepsy since 1968. The Foundation’s goals are to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and to prevent, control and cure epilepsy through research, education, advocacy and services. For additional information, please visit

About The Epilepsy Project
The Epilepsy Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance new therapies for people living with epilepsy. Founded in 2002 by a group of parents, distinguished physicians and researchers, The Epilepsy Project’s mission is to advance new therapies for people living with epilepsy. The organization funds translational research through direct grants. Since its founding, The Epilepsy Project has raised over five million dollars towards its mission. For further information, please visit

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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