Why we carry out research

We are the only charity in the UK that’s solely dedicated to funding research into epilepsy. Every year, our Scientific Advisory Committee selects projects that they believe could make a difference to the lives of people living with epilepsy.

Why do we fund research?
We fund it because at the moment 30% of people with epilepsy don’t find that the treatments on offer work for them, whilst many of the people who do find medication works also have to deal with side effects.

This is because we simply don’t know enough about how epilepsy ‘works’.

We need more research, urgently. We need to know more about:

  • How the brain operates
  • How to diagnose epilepsy earlier and more accurately
  • What happens in the brain to produce a seizure
  • Why some people are more likely to have seizures than others
  • Which medications might work to control seizures better, and with fewer side effects
  • Surgical procedures that could control epilepsy
  • The genetic links to epilepsy
  • How to treat people whose epilepsy does not respond to medication, but who cannot have an operation

The more we can find out about any and all of these, the more we will be able to tackle epilepsy effectively.

Specialist epilepsy funding
This is an exciting time for neurology and brain research overall. Researchers are making discoveries and devising treatments that would be considered unthinkable only a few years ago. But we need to ensure that they are focusing on epilepsy as well as on other conditions. We need epilepsy specialists, who dedicate their careers to investigating epilepsy, build up their expertise, and train the researchers of the future.

What research do we fund?
At Epilepsy Research UK, we are funding studies into all these different aspects of epilepsy. Our researchers are right at the cutting-edge of neurology, investigating the workings of the brain and how to tackle it when something goes ‘wrong’ to produce a seizure.

Many of our grants support new pilots, which give researchers the opportunity to test out brand new ideas. We feel it’s important to give these ideas the start-up they need, so that scientists can use the results to secure larger follow-on funding.

Even if a promising-looking idea doesn’t work out, that is useful too – the researchers can shut down that area of investigation and concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

Making a difference
Since its beginning in 2007, Epilepsy Research UK has allocated more than £8 million in grant awards.

Some of this research has helped us:

  • understand more about the brain areas involved in language, learning and memory in children being considered for epilepsy surgery, so that the surgery safer
  • know more about risks of taking epilepsy medication in pregnancy
  • trial drugs to treat memory problems in people with temporal lobe epilepsy 
  • improve surgery for focal epilepsy
  • discover that immunotherapy is an effective treatment for faciobrachial dystonic seizures

Click here for our full research portfolio.