University Gets $2.5M Donation For Epilepsy Research

Epilepsy research efforts at Western University have received a big financial boost thanks to a $2.5-million donation from the school’s chancellor.


Jack Cowin and his wife Sharon have made the contribution to help boost Western’s epilepsy programs; and services after experiencing first hand the impacts they have on people; when their granddaughter Sophie, diagnosed at age nine, received care.

“Her mother . . . took her to every expert imaginable, and the treatment and the understanding that she got at Western was superior to any place, and anyone else, that she’d talked to in her vast research on this particular problem,” Cowin said in a press release.

“We wanted to make a donation to foster, encourage; and enhance the excellence that had clearly already been established in epilepsy research at Western.”


A disorder, which produces abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain that can result in recurrent seizures, epilepsy affected about 300,000 Canadians between 2013 and 2014, with about 54 new cases diagnosed every day, according to statistics collected by Health Canada.

Western also announced it will be matching the funds, helping create a $5-million fund for a new endowed chair, the Jack Cowin Chair in Epilepsy Research, at the school.

According to Western, London already has the largest epilepsy program in Canada; with the largest volume of surgeries; and adding the money will help the university to become the “pre-eminent centre in epilepsy research; and surgery in North America.”


Dr. Jorge Burneo, a professor in clinical neurological sciences, has been; chosen as the first chair holder, Western said.

Among other responsibilities, Burneo, who is; also co-director of the epilepsy program at the Schulich School of Medicine; and Dentistry and London Health Sciences Centre, will be; tasked with bridging clinical practice and the school’s research in areas such as medical imaging and neuroscience.

The final goal will be to develop better surgical outcomes and less invasive surgical approaches that could improve patients’ quality of life, Western said.

The creation of this research chair in epilepsy at Western; will help attract more individuals to work here in London; and allow us to enhance the research and allow us to build partnerships to enhance our clinical care for patients, Burneo said.