Epilepsy Foundation Awards $200,000 at 'Shark Tank' Competition for Innovative Products that Aim to Improve Epilepsy Treatment and Care

Sunday, March 4, 2018
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From left to right: Epilepsy Foundation Chairman of the Board Bob Smith, Jeff Levine (winner), Epilepsy Foundation Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jacqueline French, and Epilepsy Foundation CEO and President Phil Gattone

Focus of Awarded Projects Include Improved Outcomes for Brain Surgery and a Virtual Reality Simulator for Training Health Professionals

Landover, Maryland – The Epilepsy Foundation announced the winners of the 2018 Shark Tank Competition for innovative ideas in epilepsy and seizure treatment and care on February 22, 2018, at the 2018 Epilepsy Foundation Pipeline Conference in San Francisco, California. Winners will use the award money to accelerate their product from idea to market in a timeframe that matters for people with epilepsy.

"This competition has proven itself as a great incubator for new innovations in epilepsy diagnosis and care," said Dr. Jacqueline French, Chief Scientific Officer of the Epilepsy Foundation. "A number of previous Shark Tank winners have progressed to the clinic, where they are helping people with epilepsy. I am confident that the 2018 winners will have similar future success."

In total, 26 individuals or teams entered the competition from across the United States and 9 countries across the world.

Jeff Levine, M.I.M., and Aaron Bernstein, Ph.D., of Advanced Scanners won $75,000 from the Shark Tank judges and $75,000 from the audience award for their project, "3D Machine Vision System for Surgical Navigation of the Human Brain." This project aims to track brain shift in real time to reduce navigational error for the surgeon.

"Advanced Scanners is thankful for the opportunity the Epilepsy Foundation has given us for accelerating the use of our 3D vision platform to reduce the uncertainties and risks of brain surgery on those with epilepsy," said Dr. Bernstein. "We are thrilled that we have been validated by world experts in this incredible community. This $150,000 comes at a crucial time, as we look toward transitioning from bench-testing and cadaver labs to initial trials in the operating room. We look forward to reporting on our progress!"

Joshua M. Sherman, M.D., and Todd P. Chang, M.D., M.A.C.M., won $50,000 from the judges for "Virtual Reality Medical Simulation for the Management of Status Epilepticus." This project is an immersive module that would train health professionals in emergency situations, like status epilepticus, at a lower cost.

"We are extremely grateful and thankful to the Epilepsy Foundation for all the amazing work they do, and for their belief in our efforts to improve the management of status epilepticus through Virtual Reality Medical Simulation Training and Assessment," said Dr. Sherman.

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The remaining Shark Tank finalists received a $5,000 award. They include:

  • Nick Schmansky, co-founder and CEO, CorticoMetrics, LLC, and Emily Lindemer, staff scientist, CorticoMetrics LLC: Automated Detection of Epileptic Lesions from MRI
  • Kaapa Annala, CEO, Neuro Events Labs: Machine Vision Based Solution for Noninvasive Seizure Quantification and Alarm
  • John Somoza, Ph.D., senior research scientist, Gilead Sciences: Repositioning Compounds for Use in Refractory Epilepsy
  • Patrick McFarland, co-founder and CEO, Korwave: Korwave

The competition was hosted by Dr. Jacqueline French and "Seinfeld" actor John O'Hurley. The Sharks represented industry leaders, physicians and researchers, and epilepsy advocates. They included former Congressman Tony Coelho; Robert Fisher M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neurology, Stanford University Medical Center; Daniel Friedman M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center; Elizabeth Garofalo M.D., Principal, EAG Pharma Consulting; and Shivkumar Sabesan Ph.D., Staff Hardware Engineer, Verily Life Sciences LLC.

"The Epilepsy Foundation seeks to support science and innovation, and I hope programs like the Shark Tank and the people who competed this year will inspire others to dedicate their time, expertise, and creativity to join the fight against epilepsy," said Dr. Kathleen Farrell, Director of Clinical Research at the Epilepsy Foundation.

The next Shark Tank Competition will be held at the 2019 Antiepileptic Drug and Device (AEDD) Trials XV Conference in Miami, Florida.

The Epilepsy Foundation extends its congratulations to all winners and finalists.


About Epilepsy

When a person has two unprovoked seizures or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more, they are considered to have epilepsy. (An unprovoked seizure is one that occurs for no known reason.) Epilepsy affects 3.4 million people in the U.S. and 65 million worldwide. This year, another 150,000 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite all available treatments, at least 3 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 over 50 local organizations throughout the U.S., 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 lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. 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 epilepsy.com.

"Like" the Epilepsy Foundation on Facebook at facebook.com/epilepsyfoundationofamerica. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/epilepsyfdn.

Contact Name: 
Elizabeth Dueweke
Contact Phone: 
(301) 918-3717
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Our Mission

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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