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ADD Program Awarded Warrior of Epilepsy Research Award

Jul 09, 2020

On June 22, the Anticonvulsant Drug Development (ADD) Program was presented with the first ever Warriors of Epilepsy Research Award from the Epilepsy Foundation Utah. The Epilepsy Foundation Utah began in 2016 with the merging of the Epilepsy Alliance of Utah and the Epilepsy Foundation of America. With 1 out of every 26 people developing epilepsy at some point in their life, the Epilepsy Foundation Utah is an advocate and a leader in the education and support for individuals and families affected by epilepsy. They train more than 1500 people annually to learn about types of epilepsy, the proper first aid treatment, and how to support those suffering from a seizure.

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This award recognizes an individual or organization whose research efforts have impacted the lives of those who have been diagnosed with epilepsy and their caregivers. Karen Wilcox, ADD Program Director said, “To be recognized by the Epilepsy Foundation of Utah as ‘Epilepsy Warriors’ is an extraordinary honor for the faculty, staff, and scientific trainees of the ADD Program. We look forward to continuing our work contributing to developing therapies for people with refractory seizures and those at risk for developing epilepsy.”

For more than 60 years, the University of Utah, particularly its Pharmacology & Toxicology Department in the College of Pharmacy has been recognized internationally as a center of excellence in antiseizure drug (ASD) research and development. Over this period, members of the faculty and the staff and trainees have authored more than 600 epilepsy-related works and many of today's standard laboratory tests for the evaluation of potential ASDs have evolved from these research efforts.

A formal relationship between the National Institutes and Health (NIH) and the University of Utah began in 1974 and the Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program (ADD Program) was established at the University of Utah. The ADD Program manages the contract site activities for the contract awarded to the University of Utah by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP). The ETSP has contributed to the preclinical characterization of the majority of ASDs that have been approved, over the last 30 years by the FDA, for the symptomatic treatment of epilepsy. In addition, the ADD Program faculty has been recognized internationally as thought leaders in the field of epilepsy research, with invitations to speak at worldwide symposiums, to peer review grants and manuscripts, to participate in workshops dedicated to animal models of epilepsy and drug discovery, and the publication of articles and book chapters.

Rod Hamson, Development Director at the Epilepsy Foundation Utah, said this about the ADD program receiving the Warriors of Epilepsy Research Award, “This is the first time this award has been given and the Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program Department at the University of Utah is leading the way in the diagnosis and treatment in our fight to END EPILEPSY…With this award being new, the ADD program has been a nationally recognized program and we have a tremendous relationship and respect for the work that is done. This program has impacted thousands of lives and will continue to do so. It was a unanimous decision from the gala committee; many of them live with epilepsy and have benefited from the work.”

Along with Karen Wilcox, recognition goes to Cameron Metcalf, Associate Director, Peter West and Misty Smith, faculty in the Leadership Team, and the dedicated staff and numerous trainees (undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows) who all contribute to the broad mission of the ADD Program. Congratulations!