Research funding

One of our key objectives at Epilepsy Ireland is "to undertake, encourage, fund and communicate research into the causes of, cures for and management of epilepsy and into the social and psychological effects of the condition".

Our Research Funding Scheme was set up in 2010 to provide epilepsy researchers in Ireland with an avenue to access funding for world-class research that furthered this objective.

Since then, we have invested over €1,000,000 (including HRB contributions) in 12 Irish based projects at RCSI, Trinity College, University College Dublin and other Irish institutions. Projects have investigated a wide range of epilepsy issues including epilepsy genetics, molecular mechanisms, health services, psychosocial issues and SUDEP.

Epilepsy Ireland is a member of the Medical Research Charities Group (MRCG) and to date, eightprojects have been jointly funded with the Health Research Board under the HRB/MRCG Joint Funding Scheme.

Research Priorities

Our current 5-year Strategic Plan (2017-2021) identifies research as one of six key aims of Epilepsy Ireland.

We want to fund any area of research that has the potential to add significantly to existing knowledge into the causes, cures, care, treatment, impact and effect of any type of epilepsy, including SUDEP. We encourage proposals for all types of research including basic, clinical, psychosocial and health services research.

We focus not only on a proposal's scientific quality but also on its relevance to people affected by epilepsy and its potential to deliver tangible benefits/ outcomes to the lives of people with epilepsy through a targeted investment.

Ahead of each call for proposals, we may identify a number of specific priority research areas on which we would particularly welcome funding applications. For example, for our most recent research call (October 2017), we invited applications that focused on one or more of the following research areas:

  • AEDs & Pregnancy/ Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome
  • Epilepsy & Intellectual Disability
  • Evaluating epilepsy services in Ireland (including Epilepsy Ireland services)
  • Medicinal Cannabis & Epilepsy
  • Psychosocial aspects of epilepsy
  • Rare epilepsies
  • SUDEP / Epilepsy mortality

Evaluation Process

Applications received under our Research Funding Scheme undergo a rigorous review process to ensure that the charity’s fundraised monies are invested in the projects that can have the greatest impact. This involves:

  • Internal Review of pre-application submissions to develop shortlist for full application
  • International Peer review of full applications
  • Applicant's feedback to international peer reviews.
  • Evaluation and ranking by Epilepsy Ireland's Research Peer Review Committee
  • Approval by HRB/MRCG under the Joint Funding Scheme.

Research Review Committee

Prof Martin Brodie, Chairman

Prof Norman Delanty, Adult neurology

Dr Alex Gunko, Adult neurology

Dr Bryan Lynch, Paediatric neurology 

Dr Cathy Madigan, Neuropsychology

Prof David Henshall, Basic neuroscience

Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Genetics

Dr Christine Linehan, Intellectual disability

Dr Patrick Dicker, Medical Statistician 

Ms Margaret McCahill, Patient representative

Dr Ailbhe Benson, Patient representative

Impact

We aim to fund research that has the potential to add significantly to existing knowledge into the causes, cures, care, treatment, impact and effect of any type of epilepsy, including SUDEP. We focus not only on a proposal's scientific quality but also on its relevance to people affected by epilepsy and its potential to deliver tangible benefits/ outcomes to the lives of people with epilepsy through a targeted investment.

Below are some of our key research successes to date:

  • Over €1m in research funding invested to date, representing approx. 7% of income over the past 8 years and est. 20% of all non-pay expenditure.
  • Enabled participation by Irish researchers and Irish patients in large-scale international genetics studies
  • Led directly to important genetic and gene activity discoveries
  • EI grants have helped Irish research teams achieve major national/ international epilepsy research funding (for example www.epimirna.eu and www.futureneurocentre.ie)
  • Progress in understanding the causes of SUDEP
  • The Epilepsy Deaths Register for Ireland is one of a growing number of international registries to drive further SUDEP research
  • Studies on prevalence and the impact of Epilepsy Specialist Nurses have helped shape advocacy and policy issues affecting people with epilepsy in Ireland
  • Research findings have helped shape and develop the services and supports we provide to people with epilepsy and their families, for example, the How 2 Tell project.
  • Research grants have helped attract young medical and scientific talent to the field of epilepsy
  • Promoted research volunteering among Epilepsy Ireland service users.
  • Helped ensure that State research funding has been invested in epilepsy
  • Publications in key medical journals including Epilepsia; Nature Genetics; Brain; J Neuroscience; Lancet etc and presentations at major International Epilepsy Conferences.
  • Epilepsy Ireland members consulted on research priorities and people with epilepsy involved in evaluating funding proposals

Support our Research

The number of applications for funding received by Epilepsy Ireland shows that there is great interest and expertise in this country for epilepsy research. Our last call for proposals in 2017 received a record 15 applications for support.

Since the launch of the scheme, almost 1 in 5 of all applications receive funding. However, we have been able to support just 1 in 3 of all applications deemed 'fundable' by our Research Review Committee.

Our ability to support important Irish-led research now and in the future depends on our ability to raise adequate funds, so donations or fundraising initiatives to support research are always welcome.

All funds from our Time for a Break monthly draw go towards funding for our epilepsy research projects. Thank you to all our supporters who have enabled us to fund 11 important projects to date.

All research supporters will receive our annual Research Newsletter, keeping you fully up to date on how we use your generous donations.