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Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024   

The Epilepsy Research Institute is fortunate to be surrounded by many inspiring women committed to radically advancing research into epilepsy. To mark International Women’s Day 2024, we’re highlighting just some of the incredible achievements of female researchers, clinicians and supporters from recent years.

Dr Laura Smith is a postdoctoral Research Associate at the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University. Dr Smith recently won the Céline Newman Neurobiology of Epilepsy Award at the 2023 International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Annual Scientific Meeting. The Epilepsy Research Institute runs a regular Neurobiology of Epilepsy Session at the ILAE, during which shortlisted early career researchers compete for the award. Laura won after presenting her research into neurodegeneration and epilepsy in Alpers’ syndrome using donated brain tissue from patients. Laura also recently wrote a Feature article explaining how donated human brain tissue is a valuable resource for researchers investigating epilepsy. 

July 2023 saw the publication ofthe World Health Organization (WHO) Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP) on epilepsy and other neurological disorders. The report sets out actions needed to improve access to care and treatment for people living with neurological disorders, including epilepsy, which has the potential to bring about real change in policy and practice around the world. Epilepsy Research Institute President Professor J Helen Cross OBE is the President of the International League Against Epilepsy, the global organisation for professionals involved in the care of epilepsy, who played an important role in the development of the WHO IGAP. Professor Cross explained how important the IGAP will be for people affected by epilepsy and for epilepsy research globally.

Janet Williams MBE and Emma Murphy live with epilepsy, and both have children affected by exposure to the anti-seizure medication sodium valproate during pregnancy. Together they co-founded In-FACT – the Independent Foetal Anti-Convulsant Trust – in November 2012 and have campaigned tirelessly for better patient information and compensation for the families affected. As a result of their efforts and countless other patient campaign groups, in February of this year The Hughes Report was published which recommended redress options for families affected by valproate. We recently sat down with Janet and Emma to discuss the impact of epilepsy and valproate on their families and what the report means for their campaign.

Kayleigh is a dedicated supporter of the Epilepsy Research Institute and takes on a formidable fundraising challenge every year in memory of her best friend Emily and her unborn son, Finley who both passed away in 2016. From half marathons to 24-mile hikes, to this year’s challenge of an 18-hour game-a-thon, Kayleigh’s commitment to supporting vital research in memory of her friend is inspiring. The term ‘best friend’ doesn’t do Emily justice,” said Kayleigh. “She was the most selfless, kind, caring and loving person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Putting into words how much I miss her and her baby is impossible.” 
 
We would like to say a huge thank you to Kayleigh for her unwavering commitment to supporting vital epilepsy research. 

We are incredibly proud to be associated with these inspirational women and we hope you enjoyed reading their stories.  
 
You can find out more about the Epilepsy Research Institute’s recent activities here.