FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHICAGO, IL (May 14, 2021)—The American Epilepsy Society (AES) Board of Directors proudly announced today that AES has established the Sergievsky Research Fund for Epilepsy Health Equity and Diversity. The fund will support the new Sergievsky Award for Epilepsy Health Equity and Diversity, a two-year early career research grant for clinicians and scientists who are members of underrepresented minority groups, with preference for those who are Black or African American.
“AES recognizes that professionals who bring a diversity of backgrounds and experiences enrich our work as a Society and improve outcomes for the diverse patient populations our members serve,” said Douglas A. Coulter, PhD of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and President of the American Epilepsy Society. “We know that research funding and connection to mentoring networks are critical to attracting top scholars from underrepresented groups to careers in epilepsy, which is a priority for AES. Establishment of this fund represents a significant step toward advancing this goal.”
The award is made possible by a generous gift from the Sergievsky family trust, in memory of Ms. Kira Sergievsky, a person with epilepsy who was a longtime employee in the Department of Neurology medical library at Columbia University--also home of the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, which was established in the name of Kira’s mother.
Upon receiving this transformational gift in early 2020, the AES Board of Directors convened an inclusive workgroup to shape an optimal way to use the fund that reflects the Society’s mission and values. “We recognized the opportunity to steward this wonderful gift in a way that translates a core principle of the Society into action and maximizes its impact,” noted Board members Manisha N. Patel, PhD of the University of Colorado, and Howard P. Goodkin, MD, PhD, FAES of the University of Virginia, who serve as co-chairs of the AES Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force.
Renée Shellhaas, MD, MS, FAES of the University of Michigan, co-chair of the AES Research and Training Council, said “Adequate early funding and mentoring are central to success for every clinical researcher, and this award will help to expand access to those critical resources.” Peter B. Crino, MD, PhD of the University of Maryland and co-chair of the AES Research and Training Council, added “it is with great excitement that we look forward to the first round of applications for this prestigious award, and we encourage everyone in the epilepsy community to spread the word about it.”
The application period for the Sergievsky Award for Epilepsy Health Equity and Diversity will open in September 2021. Additional details can be found on the American Epilepsy Society website.