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Epilepsy Centers without Walls


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke (NINDS) is proposing to issue a series of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for the NINDS Epilepsy Centers without Walls Program to Promote Collaborative Research in the Epilepsies, a newly envisioned cooperative agreement program that will engage the epilepsy research community in collaborations to solve challenges related to the Epilepsy Research Benchmarks. This RFI seeks input that will help guide the development of solicitations for this new program.

NINDS is the lead NIH Institute for research on the epilepsies and has supported important contributions to past and recent advances. However, many challenges remain for epilepsy research. To further accelerate progress toward the goals of no seizures, no side effects, and the prevention of epilepsy in those at risk, NINDS is implementing new initiatives for epilepsy research, including the NINDS Epilepsy Centers without Walls Program to Promote Collaborative Research in the Epilepsies. This program will support multicenter, multidisciplinary consortia to solve specific research challenges that will lead to advances in prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of the epilepsies and related comorbidities. The program will bring together the best investigators, regardless of geographic location, and is a novel and innovative approach to harnessing the best research to address difficult needs in a particular field. The NINDS expects to issue the first Requests for Applications for this program in fall 2010. The first RFAs are likely to focus on human epilepsy genetics or animal models of epileptogenesis and pharmacoresistance for translational drug development. An RFA soliciting planning grant applications for a Center without Walls on Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) is also anticipated in fall 2010.

Recent and planned NINDS workshops on these topics will be one source of input into the key challenges the Centers without Walls program should address. NINDS will hold workshops in the areas of human epilepsy genetics and animal models of epileptogenesis and pharmacoresistance in late summer, 2010. NINDS previously held a workshop on SUDEP in November 2008. A summary of the meeting, which includes research priorities identified during the proceedings, is in preparation.

The first workshop will focus on the state of the science for current large scale epilepsy genetic efforts. The workshop will assess the readiness for broad collaboration in a US-based consortium and how to remove barriers to collaboration in this area. It is hoped that consensus can begin to be reached on topics such as: priorities, phenotyping standards, retroactive use of samples and data, informatics and data systems issues, informed consent for future studies, functional validation studies, data sharing and publication policies.

The second workshop is expected to focus on animal models of epileptogenesis or pharmacoresistance suitable for translational research studies. The purpose of this workshop is to assess the utility of available models for developing and testing new therapies to prevent epileptogenesis, to modify the course of epilepsy, or to control seizures in conditions that remain resistant to currently available treatment options. The workshop will explore the relevance of these models for specific clinical populations (i.e., people who develop epilepsy after traumatic brain injury, stroke, prolonged status epilepticus, etc.), regulatory barriers for trial design, and validation requirements and candidate criteria for preclinical intervention studies.

Information Requested

NINDS is seeking information that will be useful in developing the upcoming workshops and the Epilepsy Center without Walls solicitations. Specifically, NINDS requests input on the following areas (please note that it is not required to address all areas in order to respond; feel free to focus on those items in which you are most interested in addressing):

  • Challenges that exist for investigators and institutions in establishing effective, large-scale, geographically dispersed collaborations.

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  • Unique challenges to collaboration in the areas of human genetics, animal models of epileptogenesis or pharmacoresistance, and/or Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).

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  • Lessons learned from collaborative experiences with other disorders that are applicable to the epilepsies. In your experience, approaches or models for fostering collaborative research and do you find to be most effective, and why. Approaches and moders that have not worked as well.

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  • Key questions that are currently obstacles to further progress in human genetics, translation of therapies for epileptogenesis and pharmacoresistant epilepsy, and/or SUDEP.

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  • Other questions that should be asked at the upcoming workshops on human epilepsy genetics and animal models of epileptogenesis or pharmacoresistance. Recent advances or emerging research that should be included.

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  • Other topic areas that should be considered for an Epilepsy Center without Walls solicitation in future years.

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Responses

Responses will be accepted through August 6, 2010.

Inquiries

Specific questions about this RFI should be directed to the contact listed below:

Brandy Fureman, PhD
Program Director, Epilepsies
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
furemanb@ninds.nih.gov
Phone: 301-496-1917

Last updated July 16, 2010