Published on 30/10/2023
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Aston University researchers visit 10 Downing Street for launch of epilepsy research institute
  • The Epilepsy Research Institute is the fist national research institute dedicated to epilepsy
  • Dr Sukhvir Wright is the Institute’s co-lead for capacity building and Dr Felix Chan is early career researcher lead for neurodevelopment theme
  • Aston University’s research into epilepsy was highlighted by Paul Scully MP.

Professor Gavin Woodhall, Dr Felix Chan and Dr Sukhvir Wright from Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment were invited to 10 Downing Street to attend a reception for the official launch of the Epilepsy Research Institute hosted by George Freeman MP, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation on Wednesday 25 October.

The Institute is the world’s first national research institute dedicated to epilepsy. Dr Wright is a trustee for the Institute and will be a co-lead for capacity building. Dr Chan has been appointed to be the early career researcher lead for the neurodevelopment theme. 

The event brought together research leaders, industry representatives, founding partners, research programme theme leads and people affected by epilepsy. Speakers at the event included Baroness Julia Cumberlege, Minister for Tech and Digital Economy, Paul Scully MP and Epilepsy Research Institute Chair, Professor Matthew Walker.

In his speech Paul Scully MP highlighted the epilepsy research work taking place at Aston University, including a £2 million Medical Research Council (MRC) funded project led by Professor Woodhall and partnered with Bristol University and Jazz Pharmaceuticals, to explore how epilepsy becomes established in the brain and how this process might be prevented.

The Epilepsy Research Institute will serve as the central hub for the epilepsy research community. The Institute’s mission is to radically advance research into the causes, prevention and treatment of epilepsy and its associated conditions.

The Institute aims to strengthen the epilepsy research ecosystem by driving strategic investment and developing partnerships and collaborations between academia, the NHS, industry, funders and patient groups. Central to this will be a culture of advocating and actioning the research priorities of people affected by epilepsy.

Minister George Freeman said:

 “I fully support the formation of the Epilepsy Research Institute. It is clear that progress will not be achieved by some extraordinary discovery one afternoon in a laboratory but by incremental aggregation of different disciplines and multidisciplinary working partnerships.

“We need a combination of deep biological science, neural pathway mapping, AI and technologies that require our top laboratories and research institutes around the world working together.”

 Professor Matthew Walker, chair of trustees, said:

“As a community, we all know the critical role research plays in improving the lives of those with epilepsy. Every study marks a step forward, and every collaboration strengthens our efforts against this devastating condition. The launch of the Epilepsy Research Institute is a watershed for our disease area.”

 Maxine Smeaton, chief executive, said:

“We know that research will only flourish with sufficient investment and the right infrastructure. The Epilepsy Research Institute will provide the research community with the leadership, resources and support needed to radically advance research into epilepsy.”

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7446 910063 or email:

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