News Release

Massachusetts researcher receives $130,000 for non-epileptic seizure research

Grant and Award Announcement

American Academy of Neurology

WASHINGTON, DC - A Massachusetts researcher will receive $130,000 to continue his investigation into psychogenic non-epileptic seizures through the Practice Research Training Fellowship, cosponsored by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Brain Foundation. The award was presented in Washington, DC, during the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting, the world's largest meeting of neurologists.

Benjamin Tolchin, MD, MS, a clinical neurophysiology fellow at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts, received the award for his examination of the reasons that patients with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES, formerly called "pseudoseizures") often have difficulty completing treatment. Sepeta's work focuses on testing a technique called "motivational interviewing" as a method to help patients successfully complete treatment.

"Currently, there are proven, effective therapies for treating PNES, yet the majority of patients with PNES do not complete these treatments and continue to have non-epileptic seizures many years after they are diagnosed," said Tolchin. "These seizures are common, disabling and dangerous for the patients, and expensive for the health care system. This study endeavors to identify new ways to increase the number of patients who successfully complete therapy to eliminate their non-epileptic seizures."

The two-year award will consist of an annual salary of $55,000 plus $10,000 per year for tuition to support formal education in clinical research methodology. Clinical research is the fundamental transition stage between discovery and treatment and provides the scientific basis for all forms of care, addresses patient and caregiver needs and is the backbone for drug development and cost-effectiveness studies needed to improve lives. Fellowships provide recipients with up to three years of "protected time," with salary that allows them to continue important research projects.

Added Tolchin, "I feel enormously honored to receive the Practice Research Training Fellowship. I feel very strongly that patients with PNES are in many ways underserved by the health care system, and often do not receive the best possible care. I think that this award is a recognition that better treatment and more research are needed for PNES, and I very much hope that I can contribute meaningfully to that need. I am so grateful for the opportunity to focus my time and efforts on improving the quality of care for these patients."


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The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 28,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

The American Brain Foundation, founded by the American Academy of Neurology, supports crucial research and education to discover causes, improved treatments, and cures for brain and other nervous system diseases. Learn more at or find the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

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