LANDOVER, MD – The Epilepsy Foundation announced today that H. Steven White, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology and principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Epilepsy Foundation's Lifetime Accelerator Award, in recognition of his commitment and pioneering contributions to the field of epilepsy and seizures. Dr. White will be honored at the 4th Biennial Epilepsy Pipeline Conference 2014, being held June 5-7, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.
A leader in translational research in anticonvulsant drug therapies, Dr. White is well-recognized for his scientific leadership of the University of Utah NIH-sponsored Anticonvulsant Drug Development (ADD) Program, founded in 1975 by the late Ewart A. Swinyard in collaboration with the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), NIH. Dr. White's career in antiepileptic drug discovery began in 1986 as the senior scientist of the ADD Program. Over the three decades that mark Dr. White's research in the field, this program has played a crucial role in the early identification and characterization of thousands of novel anticonvulsant medications using established seizure and epilepsy models. Dr. White's laboratory has identified and characterized the anticonvulsant profile and potential mechanism of action for established and new anti-epilepsy agents. Notably, the efforts of the faculty, staff and students of this program, which Dr. White has directed since 2001, have since its establishment in 1975 contributed to the successful development of multiple new therapeutics, including felbamate, rufinamide, topiramate, retigabine and lacosamide.
"On behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation and many clinicians treating seizure conditions today, we are especially pleased to honor Dr. White with the Lifetime Accelerator Award and to recognize his outstanding contributions in anticonvulsant drug development," said Philip M. Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. "We are grateful not only for his steadfast commitment to our mission, but also for his energy and enthusiasm for mentoring the next generation of neuroscientists and epilepsy educators."
"Dr. White has been a force behind many of the therapeutics used in treatment today. He is truly dedicated to finding therapies that will make a difference to patients through development of new animal models," said Jacqueline A. French, M.D., director of the Epilepsy Study Consortium, and director of clinical trials at NYU's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. "He has given generously of his free time to collaborate with other researchers and epilepsy organizations and this recognition is well-deserved."
Ongoing translational research in Dr. White's laboratory is focused on the development of novel models of therapy resistant models and understanding the influence of genetics on the pathophysiology, seizure-susceptibility and anti-epileptic drug pharmacology of animal seizure and epilepsy models. Dr. White and his colleagues at Utah and the NINDS are conducting research that may lead to novel therapies for treatment-resistant epilepsy and importantly, disease-modifying therapies with the potential to halt, slow, or prevent the development of epilepsy in susceptible individuals. He is also a scientific co-founder of NeuroAdjuvants, Inc., a Salt Lake City-based biotechnology firm focused on the development of metabolically stable, blood-brain-barrier neuropeptides for the treatment of refractory epilepsy and pain.
Dr. White earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology in 1984 at the University of Utah and an M.S. in Pharmacology and baccalaureate degree in Pharmacy at Idaho State University. He began his career as a practicing pharmacist and since 1984 has risen through the academic ranks at the University of Utah. On November 18, 2011, Dr. White received an Honorary Doctor of Science from The University of Copenhagen Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Copenhagen, Denmark. Over the years, Dr. White has been the recipient of significant research funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and he and his collaborators have published over 170 original papers pertaining to the mechanism of action and the pharmacology of antiepileptic drugs. In addition to his academic service, Dr. White has served as Research Director of CURE (Citizen's United for Research in Epilepsy), the largest non-governmental provider of epilepsy research funding, since November 2011.
Epilepsy Foundation's Lifetime Accelerator Award
The Lifetime Accelerator Award was established in 2012 to honor physicians, scientists, industry leaders, and other individuals who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to bringing new therapies to people living with epilepsy. Lifetime Accelerator Award recipients are chosen by an independent committee of global thought leaders and clinical investigators in epilepsy and seizure therapy discovery and development. Harvey Kupferberg, Ph.D., past chief of the Preclinical Pharmacology Section, Epilepsy Branch, NINDS, NIH, was conferred the 2012 Lifetime Accelerator Award, and Henrik Klitgaard, Ph.D., vice president, head CNS research, UCB, received the award in 2013.
When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy, which affects more than 2 million people in the United States and 65 million people worldwide. This year, another 150,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite all available treatments, four out of 10 people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with 48 affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to stop seizures and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy and research to accelerate ideas into therapies. The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. For additional information, please visit www.epilepsy.com.