Here at the Epilepsy Foundation, we are excited about our new initiative, Kevin’s Fellows.  It is an important project designed to inspire and empower young researchers to work in the field of epilepsy, which currently is woefully underfunded.

Compounding the problem of limited funding, the NIH is primarily investing in established investigators. Promising young scientists are passed over in favor of those who have already done their breakthrough work. Today, early-career clinical researchers are finding research dollars scarce. Many brilliant young investigators, facing substantial debt from education and uncertain research funding levels, are abandoning a research career in favor of other avenues. The lack of funding and the subsequent lack of new talent are threatening innovations and breakthroughs in epilepsy research and new therapies.  At EF, we believe it is critical to reverse this trend.

The Kevin’s Fellow initiative is a part of our solution to the current state of affairs in research.  In our quest to ensure that the field of seizure research is vibrant, innovative, and enduring, the Epilepsy Foundation is searching for the next generation of brilliant scientists who are at the peak of their creativity with the establishment of the annual Kevin’s Fellow Award.

Trish Barnes, Kevin’s mother, says that in his short time on earth, Kevin touched many with his kindness, optimism and joyful way of being.  With his shining spirit, Kevin epitomized the promise of his generation: bright, creative, and inquisitive … our future.  Who better than Kevin, then, to symbolize the next generation of scientists focusing on clinical research and new therapies in epilepsy?

Selected by peer review through the American Epilepsy Society Early Career Research program and with final sponsorship selections provided by the Epilepsy Foundation funding committee, these $50,000 grants will go to the most promising candidates who will build their careers with a focus on epilepsy. The grants will be either AES/Epilepsy Foundation Junior Investigator Research Awards, for recently independent researchers, or AES/Epilepsy Foundation Research and Training Fellowships for Clinicians, for clinical fellows or junior faculty conducting mentored research.

For those living with day-to-day difficulties of epilepsy, relief cannot come soon enough and we entrust these brilliant young minds will move us forward in our quest to alleviate suffering and end epilepsy.