Epilepsy Foundation Pipeline Conference Showcases Latest Medical Therapies and Treatments; Shark Tank Awards $200K for Innovations to Help People with Seizures

John M. Pellock, MD, a Leader in the Field of Pediatric Epilepsy, Presented with the 2016 Lifetime Accelerator Award
Thursday, March 3, 2016

(Landover, MD) - The Epilepsy Foundation, the nation’s leader in epilepsy and seizure information and engagement, hosted hundreds of investors, emerging biotech and medical technology companies, major pharmaceutical and device companies, and researchers and innovators at the cutting-edge of epilepsy treatment advances during this year’s Epilepsy Foundation Pipeline Conference. The Conference is part of the Foundation’s Epilepsy Therapy Project. 

Despite a century of significant advances in epilepsy therapy, treatment-resistant seizures remain a problem for one-third of people living with epilepsy. The Conference focuses on the robust pipeline of drugs and devices in clinical development that are needed to improve the lives of people with epilepsy through enhanced seizure control, better side effect profiles, and safer treatment.

“The Pipeline Conference allows the epilepsy community, government representatives, and industry partners to all meet together to discuss the best paths forward and to hear about new therapies and diagnostic devices in early and late development,” said Jacqueline French MD, chief scientific officer of the Epilepsy Foundation and professor of neurology at New York University. “It is impossible not to feel a sense of optimism with so many innovative and novel potential new interventions at hand. This year we were also treated to six very novel and exciting epilepsy proposals from all over the world in the “Shark Tank” competition, an annual event which helps entrepreneurs with innovative ideas obtain visibility and financial support.”     

During the “Shark Tank” competition, innovators present in hopes of receiving an investment of up to $200,000. The funding will be used to advance their project to the next phase of development. The “Shark Tank” judges included:

  • Rick Harrison of TV’s “Pawn Stars” and Epilepsy Foundation Board member
  • Nathan Fountain MD, chair of the Foundation’s Professional Advisory Board and professor of neurology and director of the F.E. Dreifuss Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at the University of Virginia
  • Joseph Sirven MD, editor-in-chief of epilepsy.com and professor of neurology and chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona
  • Tom Stanton, executive director of the Danny Did Foundation
  • Brooke Gordon, Foundation Board member

The audience participated in a live voting process that, along with the judges votes, eventually led to the following winners of the competition:

  • $150,000 - Instant EEG presented by Aswin Gunasekar, founder of Zeto Inc. Electroencephalography, or EEG, is the most common and important test for diagnosing epilepsy because it records electrical activity of the brain. Instant EEG is a technology designed to make this test more convenient, easy to use, and accessible.
  • $50,000 - M-Kifafa presented by Rosemary Gathara, program coordinator for the Kenya Association for the Welfare of People with epilepsy. M-Kifafa is mobile technology designed to increase epilepsy awareness in Kenya, where 800,000 people currently suffer from epilepsy and fewer than 20% have been identified, diagnosed, and treated. 

In total, 65 individuals or teams entered the “Shark Tank” competition from across the U.S. and 13 countries around the world. Other finalists competing this year, who each won a prize of $5,000, were:

  • #EpiBear presented by Emily Hoover, a teenager with epilepsy - a teddy bear that provides comfort to children with epilepsy
  • IR Hat presented by Jason Hancock, Impact Reduction Technologies Inc. - impact resistant technology that makes life a bit safer for those who have epilepsy
  • EpiNightNurse presented by Tamara and Joachim Coche, parents of a son with epilepsy - an Internet-based system for nightly video and audio monitoring of people with epilepsy
  • Mobile micro-groups and semantic enabled self management presented by Abbas Hasan, COO of  Pearson’s - a tool to get people talking about their epilepsy and to provide personalized support to help them better self-manage

This year’s annual presentation of the Lifetime Accelerator Award recognized Jack Pellock MD for his many contributions in the field of pediatric epilepsy. Dr. Pellock is the professor of neurology, pediatrics, pharmacy, and pharmaceutics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and has been principal investigator for more than 100 trials evaluating epilepsy treatments in children and adults. For more than 30 years, he has been involved in antiepileptic drug development and studying epilepsy in children. 
“We are honored to recognize Dr. Jack Pellock during this year’s Pipeline Conference,” said Philip M. Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “Jack's work is a true testament to his commitment of service to the epilepsy community and his outstanding leadership in supporting our mission to ultimately stop seizures. We are grateful for his lifetime of continuous support of the Epilepsy Foundation and individuals living with seizures, and we look forward to presenting him with the 2016 Lifetime Accelerator Award.”

The Epilepsy Foundation appreciates the support of the conference sponsors: UCB, Lundbeck, and Eisai, Co.

Pipeline Conference 2016 - Dr. Jacqueline French

Jacqueline French MD, chief scientific officer of the Epilepsy Foundation and professor of neurology at New York University, presenting during the Epilepsy Foundation Pipeline Conference

Shark Tank 2016 Winner Instant EEG

Zeto Inc. “Shark Tank” check presentation: (l-r) Phil Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation; Aswin Gunasekar, founder, and Zoltan Nadasdy PhD, CTO, of Zeto Inc.; and Jacqueline French MD

Shark Tank 2016 Winner M-Kifafa

M-Kifafa "Shark Tank” check presentation: (l-r) Phil Gattone; Rosemary Gathara, program coordinator for the Kenya Association for the Welfare of People with epilepsy; and Jacqueline French MD

Contact Name: 
LeAnn Harley | Manager of Program Communications and Media Relations
Contact Phone: 
(301) 918-3721
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The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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