Logo - Swiss League Against Epilepsy, Schweizerische Epilepsie-Liga, la Ligue Suisse contre l’Epilepsie

Awards at the 2023 Swiss League Against Epilepsy Joint Annual Meeting

23 March, 2023

Zurich/Berlin - For the first time in four years, over 1,000 participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have come together from 15 to 18 March 2023 for the joint annual meeting of the three national epileptology associations (Dreiländertagung). On 17 March 2023, the awards bestowed by the Swiss League Against Epilepsy were presented in the Henry Ford building at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Headshot of Dr. Marian Galovic
Marian Galovic

The Research Recognition Award, with prize money of CHF 25,000, goes to Marian Galovic of Zurich University Hospital, for his project «Longitudinal imaging as a biomarker of disease modification in epilepsy (LIBERO)». With the help of advanced imaging, he and his team are analysing the effect of epileptic seizures on brain structure. The current project is measuring changes to the brains of over 1,300 people with epilepsy and more than 250 healthy subjects over a long period of time. This will allow the researchers to determine how taking anti-seizure medication affects the structure of the brain. The objective is to find neuroprotective medication for people with epilepsy.

«Ideally the results of the study will lead to the development of new treatment methods which not only suppressive seizures, but also improve brain health,» says Barbara Tettenborn, president of the Swiss League Against Epilepsy. «That would be an overdue paradigm change in epilepsy treatment,» she adds.

The Alfred Hauptmann Award is for the best research publication in the field of epileptology published within the previous two years by researchers in German-speaking countries. It now comes with total prize money of €20,000 – previously €10,000. Half the prize money is awarded to the author of a basic research document that has been published, while the other half is awarded in the field of clinical research. This has been made possible thanks to new sponsors: the award is now supported by the companies UCB-Pharma, Desitin Pharma, Angelini Pharma and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

Kerstin Alexandra Klotz headshot
Kerstin Alexandra Klotz

The Alfred Hauptmann Award for clinical research goes to Kerstin Alexandra Klotz, who works at the University Hospital in Freiburg im Breisgau, for her publication «Scalp ripples can predict development of epilepsy after first unprovoked seizure in childhood». This research also focusses on biomarkers: after a first seizure, an EEG (electroencephalogram) is almost always conducted. However, EEG spikes typical of epilepsy give only a very rough indication of whether further seizures are likely. After studying 56 children, Klotz and her research team were able to show that «scalp ripples» − high frequency oscillations on the EEG – are a more reliable indication of patient prognosis after a first seizure. Future research could validate these biomarkers and make them more widely accessible.

The Alfred Hauptmann Award in the basic research category goes to a team from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) in Vienna, Jürgen A. Knoblich, Nina S. Corsini and Oliver L. Eichmüller, for their study «Amplification of human interneuron progenitors promotes brain tumors and neurological defects». The researchers employed an innovative modelling technique using cerebral organoids to mimic the characteristic features of tuberous sclerosis. They were able to uncover the pathology of this genetic form of epilepsy, and to open up possibilities for new types of therapy.

Alfred Hauptmann Award recipients 2023 from left to right: Oliver L. Eichmüller, Nina S. Corsini and Jürgen A. Knoblich
Photo: IMBA
From left to right: Oliver L. Eichmüller, Nina S. Corsini and Jürgen A. Knoblich. Photo: IMBA.

The Alfred Hauptmann Award is presented every two years by the German and Austrian epileptology associations together with the Swiss Epilepsy League. It is named after the German neurologist Alfred Hauptmann, who had to emigrate from Germany in 1933.

Alfred Hauptmann Award - publications

Kerstin A. Klotz MD, Yusuf Sag, Jan Schönberger MD, Julia Jacobs MD: Scalp ripples can predict development of epilepsy after first unprovoked seizure in childhood. In: Annals of Neurology 89(1): 134-142 (2021). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.25939

Eichmüller O.L., Corsini N.S., et al.: Amplification of human interneuron progenitors promotes brain tumors and neurological defects. In: Science 375 (2022). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abf5546

Press release and video: https://www.oeaw.ac.at/imba/research-highlights/news/not-all-brains-are-equal-why-the-human-brain-is-more-vulnerable-to-disease

The Swiss League Against Epilepsy (Epilepsy League) is a professional organisation, operating all over Switzerland, and is the Swiss chapter of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).

The Epilepsy League researches, helps and informs. Its goal is to sustainably improve the daily lives and standing in society of those affected by epilepsy.