We are committed to accelerating the development of next generation therapies for people living with epilepsy. Our team includes a set of data-driven scientists, staff, and advisors with both technical and strategic expertise to advance the Epilepsy Foundation’s vision of a world without epilepsy and lives free from seizures and side effects.

Jackie French MD, Chief Scientific Officer

Jacqueline (Jackie) French became the chief scientific officer for the Epilepsy Foundation in 2015. She is also a professor in the department of neurology at New York University (NYU) and co-director of epilepsy research and epilepsy clinical trials at the New York University Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Previously, Dr. French was assistant dean for clinical trials at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to her roles at the Epilepsy Foundation and NYU, Dr. French is the president of the Epilepsy Study Consortium, a non-profit organization that helps speed new therapies to people with epilepsy. She is past president of the American Epilepsy Society, past secretary of the American Society of Experimental Neurotherapeutics, and past chair of the International League Against Epilepsy North American Commission.

Dr. French trained in neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and did her fellowship training in EEG and epilepsy at Mount Sinai Hospital and Yale University. She has focused her research efforts on development of new therapeutics for epilepsy, and has written many articles, editorials, and chapters and has edited two books on this subject.

She has also served as co-director of a bi-annual symposium on trial design and its implications. This symposium is an opportunity for representatives from government (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health), members of the academic community, and members of the private research community to discuss drug development and determine new strategies. This meeting has led to the implementation of new trial designs, as well as new strategies for the approval of drugs for use in monotherapy.

In addition, Dr. French has contributed to the creation of practice parameters, serving on committees of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Epilepsy Society (AES) and several practice parameter task forces. She chaired an AAN/AES committee that produced two widely quoted guidelines on the use of new antiepileptic drugs. She has also organized a multicenter effort to prospectively evaluate outcome for people with epilepsy initiated on new antiepileptic drugs.

Read a letter from Dr. French

Brandy Fureman PhD, Vice President for Research & New Therapies

Brandy Fureman has served as the vice president of research and new therapies at the Epilepsy Foundation since 2016. She oversees all Epilepsy Foundation research programs and priorities for innovation, engagement, and research training. She also serves as the principal investigator for the Rare Epilepsy Network, a collaboration of over 30 organizations committed to research in the rare epilepsies. Prior to joining the Epilepsy Foundation, Dr. Fureman was program director for Epilepsy in the Channels, Synapses and Circuits cluster at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

At NINDS, Dr. Fureman was responsible for overseeing a diverse portfolio of epilepsy research awards, including clinical trials, translational projects, basic science research, and training grants. She was also responsible for identifying epilepsy research issues critical to NINDS and NIH and taking programmatic action through creation of focused funding opportunities (e.g., Epilepsy Centers Without Walls program), resource development (e.g., NINDS Common Data Elements for Epilepsy and Curing the Epilepsies conferences), and multiple workshops to address the needs in the field. Dr. Fureman coordinated the Institute's Epilepsy Research Benchmarks strategic planning process in collaboration with the American Epilepsy Society. She has authored a number of scientific articles in the field. She received her PhD in neuroscience from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, where she focused on molecular and behavioral effects of ion channelopathy in episodic neurological disorders. Her undergraduate degree is in genetic engineering from Cedar Crest College.

Sonya Dumanis PhD, Senior Director of Innovation

Sonya Dumanis oversees the Epilepsy Foundation Innovation Program, including the Epilepsy Innovation Institute (Ei2), Epilepsy Therapy Project and Targeted Research Programs, and the Next Generation Scientist Programs. She is also the research liaison for local Epilepsy Foundations and coordinates the Research Quarterly publications. Dr. Dumanis has been with the Epilepsy Foundation since 2016. Prior to joining the Epilepsy Foundation, she worked as a senior associate at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. Working with individual philanthropists and foundations interested in biomedical philanthropy, Dr. Dumanis was tasked with identifying key philanthropic opportunities poised to have a transformative impact on the state of research and developing research programs. While there, she authored the Giving Smarter Guide for Epilepsy report.

Dr. Dumanis completed her postdoctoral training at both the Johns Hopkins University and the Max-Delbrück Center in Berlin, Germany. She earned her PhD in neuroscience from Georgetown University. She has authored numerous scientific articles and received a number of honors, including an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, a national science foundation (NSF) fellowship, a national research service award from the NIH and the Mark A. Smith prize from the Journal of Neurochemistry. In addition to her research credentials, Dr. Dumanis has demonstrated a strong commitment to science outreach, developing several educational initiatives such as the Georgetown Medical Center Graduate Student Research Grants program.

Kathleen Farrell MB BCh BAO, Director of Clinical Research

Kathleen Farrell directs initiatives including the Research Roundtable for Epilepsy, the Clinical Trials Portal, and the Epilepsy Foundation Pipeline Conference working with industry members, academics, and regulators to drive scientific advancement in the seizure disorder space. She also coordinates and manages the Epilepsy Foundation’s participation in the PCORI-funded Rare Epilepsy Network, which includes a patient-centered database with which to study catastrophic epilepsies. In addition to those responsibilities, Dr. Farrell oversees SUDEP Institute InnoCentive Challenge, accelerating research into the pathology and possible interventions for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Dr. Farrell joined the Foundation in 2015.

She has authored a number of scientific articles, and prior to joining the Epilepsy Foundation, Dr. Farrell worked as a medical resident at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. She earned her medical degree from University College Dublin School of Medicine and Medical Science, and successfully completed the United States Medical Licensing Examinations upon returning to the U.S..

Liz Schreiber, Grants & Fellowships Program Manager

Liz Schreiber has been at the Epilepsy Foundation for over 25 years. She works as the grants and fellowships program manager at the Epilepsy Foundation. In addition to managing the New Therapy Commercialization Grants and joint AES/Epilepsy Foundation fellowship programs, she also provides staff support to the Professional Advisory Board, the Epilepsy Foundation network’s Management and Operations Team, and the Rare Epilepsy Network.

Angela Hansell, Research & Executive Office Administrator

Angela Hansell is the research and executive office administrator for the Epilepsy Foundation. In her role, she provides administrative, logistical, and meeting support to the President and CEO and Vice President of Research and New Therapies. She also coordinates and manages the research department spring peer reviews. She has been with the Epilepsy Foundation since 2012.

Our team also works closely with outside experts to develop new programs, and evaluate and improve existing programs.

Professional Advisory Board

The Professional Advisory Board (PAB) is composed of epilepsy experts across a wide range of medical disciplines. The PAB provides strategic and creative direction across the Epilepsy Foundation's portfolio of programs, services, and initiatives.

The purpose of the Epilepsy Foundation’s Professional Advisory Board (PAB) Subcommittee on Research and New Therapies (RNT) is to provide expert evaluation and advice on research and commercialization activities of the Epilepsy Foundation. The Subcommittee assists in:

  • Providing funding recommendations for research programs to the Board of Directors
  • Developing new research activities
  • Evaluating and improving existing programs

Epilepsy Therapy Project Advisory Boards

The Epilepsy Therapy Project supports commercialization grants from leading scientists and startup companies. These grants undergo both a business advisory board and a scientific advisory board review. Following those reviews, the chairs of both boards meet with members of our PAB research subcommittee and people impacted by epilepsy to evaluate the final applications.

Ei2 Advisory Group

The Ei2 Advisory Group is primarily responsible for:

  • Determining the research challenge question topic based on the community surveys. Specifically, what should be addressed but not how it will be addressed (as those will be investigator-initiated and peer-reviewed with a nominated review board)
  • Making funding recommendations for solutions/projects based on technical reviews and overall context
  • Overseeing progress of solution/project team

To learn more about the leadership teams at the Epilepsy Foundation, click here