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Published:04 March 2013

Epilepsy Society Research Centre opens doors

Epilepsy Society medical directors, past and present, joined forces to make history on Friday (1 March),  officially opening the charity’s new £3.4 million research centre and marking the occasion by burying a time capsule.

Eminent epileptologists, Dr Jolyon Oxley, Professor Simon Shorvon, Professor John Duncan and present day medical director, Professor Ley Sander, welcomed the development at  Epilepsy Society’s Chalfont Centre in Buckinghamshire, made possible by the generosity of charitable trusts and donors, which heralds a new era in research.

Integrating epilepsy research and clinical practice

The new Centre will integrate research with the Charity’s existing tertiary care medical unit, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite and therapeutic drug monitoring unit. It houses a spacious laboratory, four new consulting rooms, offices, a library, seminar room and video conferencing.

Research equipment includes the most advanced scanning tools such as an Ocular Coherence Tomography machine (OCT) to measure the thickness of retinal fibres at the back of the eye and a 3D face scanner which uses computer-based analysis to evaluate consequences of genetic factors contributing to epilepsy.

UK's only DNA sequencer for epilepsy

One of the most exciting innovations will be the installation later this year of the UK’s only DNA sequencer dedicated to epilepsy. This has the potential to revolutionise the way epilepsy is diagnosed and treated based on a person’s DNA.

Professor Ley Sander said: “Epilepsy Society has been helping people with epilepsy since it was first founded in 1892, treatments and knowledge have improved dramatically during this time, but there is still a long way to go. The rate of genetic discovery in epilepsy is gathering pace, with important new findings are rapidly improving our understanding. The new research centre will be critical to taking these new discoveries directly to patient care, allowing us to progress with individualising treatments, discover more about the causes of epilepsy and move towards our goal of achieving a seizure-free life for all people with this condition.”

Time capsule

As part of the opening ceremony a time capsule was buried containing people’s hopes for the future of epilepsy research. It will remain buried until 2042 – the charity’s 150th birthday, when it will be opened to see how far research has come and what expectations have been met.