Epilepsy Foundation Awards $200,000 to Support Development of Innovative Products for Epilepsy Diagnosis & Treatment

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Mary Ann Brodie Honored During the 2020 Lifetime Accelerator Award Ceremony

LANDOVER, Md., -- The Epilepsy Foundation awarded $200,000 total to two of the finalists who competed in the 9th Annual Shark Tank Competition on August 27 at the 2020 Epilepsy Pipeline Conference, which this year was held virtually. Inspired by the television show “Shark Tank,” the Epilepsy Foundation’s annual competition invites entrepreneurs from around the world to pitch their products and compete with five other finalists for funding. The winners, selected by a panel of “sharks,” will use the funding in the development and commercialization of a new product, technology, or therapeutic concept to benefit the epilepsy community.

“The Epilepsy Foundation is committed to supporting solution-oriented innovative research,” said Sonya Dumanis, PhD., Vice President, Research & Innovation. “Over the years, we have funded concepts ranging from seizure alert systems, to educational platforms, which have made a huge impact in helping to improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy. We have an incredibly talented community, and we want to empower individuals who have an innovative idea to take on the challenges that people living with epilepsy face every day, and work together with us to find solutions that will benefit the 3.4 million people in the U.S. living with epilepsy.”  

Winner of this year’s Shark Tank competition are:

  • Jong Woo Lee, MD and Andres Rodriguez (Soterya) for a medical-grade smart-mattress device known as Chorus to reposition individuals and stimulate them post-seizure to prevent Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Received $75K based on the audience voting; and $50K from the judges.
  • Keely McCarthy, PhD, parent of a child living with epilepsy, for an emergency epilepsy band accessory to ensure that rescue medications are always where a person needs them to be. She received $75K from the judges.

The remaining finalists include:

  • Attila Borbáth (Synergia Medical) for a vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy called NAO•VNS™, a non-metal implantable neurostimulator that delivers personalized stimulation therapy through fMRI analysis, associated with full body MRI capability and a precise, efficient rechargeable battery.
  • Boris Goldstein, PhD (Brain Scientific) for a next-generation stamp-size EEG with graphene based imprint electrodes that can improve the sensitivity of detection and allow for better remote monitoring of individuals living with epilepsy.
  • Aditya Kadambi (Mocxa) for an automated privacy enhancement system  known as the 360DID that morphs faces in videos to allow the sharing of seizure features in videos among clinicians and researchers while protecting the privacy of the patient. 

The winning entries were selected through voting by conference attendees via a virtual poll following the pitches, as well as a panel of expert judges representing physicians and scientists, corporate executives, leading industry investors, people with epilepsy, and advocates. Among other things, criteria included the potential benefit and appeal to people with epilepsy and their families, and the likelihood of development of their product.

Since 2012, the Epilepsy Foundation has distributed $1.2 million to 16 Epilepsy Foundation Shark Tank winners. Nine previous Shark Tank winners have already made significant advances for people with epilepsy, and five have made it to market, including: SAMi by HiPass Design, UNEEG Medical (CE approved 2019),  Embrace (FDA-approved December 2018), Fafanuka (launched in Kenya in 2018), and Zeto (FDA-approved April 2018), which technology is currently part of a groundbreaking EEG study at Methodist University Hospital in Tennessee. 

This year’s Shark Tank competition also featured updates from last year’s winners, Curadite and Eysz. Following Epilepsy Foundation seed funding, Curadite has won additional awards for its smart pill packaging and medication adherence platform. They have begun testing their prototype in users for smart pill packaging and has optimized their design based on user feedback. Similarly, Eysz was able to receive follow-on funding including an investment from UCB and a grant from Greenwich Biosciences. In the past year, Eysz has expanded its IP portfolio and completed a Pre-Sub meeting with the FDA confirming the regulatory path forward.  In addition, Eysz has initiated a multicenter clinical study towards FDA clearance using analysis of passive eye movements to detect seizures.

In addition, Mary Ann Brodie, the executive director of the Epilepsy Study Consortium, formally accepted the Epilepsy Foundation’s 2020 Lifetime Accelerator Award, which was announced earlier this year. Ms. Brodie received the award during last evening’s Accelerator Award Virtual Reception & Presentation from Rusty Katz, M.D., former director of the Division of Neuropharmacological Drug Products at the Food and Drug Administration; Marc Dichter, M.D., former president of the American Epilepsy Society; and Emilio Perucca, M.D., former president of the International League Against Epilepsy.

For more information about the Shark Tank Competition, please visit: Epilepsy.com/sharktank. If you would like to submit an idea to the 2021 Shark Tank, please send an email to sharktank@efa.org.

About Epilepsy

According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.

About the Epilepsy Foundation

With a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States, the Epilepsy Foundation is leading the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy. The Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding $68.7 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,091 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 18 years, in partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer seizure first aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 123,470 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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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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