Ellen J. Bubrick, MD, has never shied from complexity—in fact, that’s what drew the Brigham and Women’s Hospital researcher and epilepsy surgery program director to the neurology field in the first place. Complexity led Dr. Bubrick to further target her research toward helping patients with uncontrolled epilepsy that is unresponsive to conventional treatment. And it’s the basis of the $100,000 BRIght Futures Prize she recently received, in recognition of her efforts to answer one of medicine’s most provocative questions.

An illustration of Bubrick’s project, drawn live during HUBWeek’s live pitch session by Collective Next.

Though most epilepsy patients’ seizures abate or cease in response to medication, a full third of patients remain unresponsive, and many of them do not qualify for surgery. Dr. Bubrick, who sees many of these patients, became determined to offer them a new option. Her research project, “Break the Shake: Ultrasound Treatment for Epilepsy,” was chosen by public vote after she applied for a BRIght Futures Prize in order to fund a pilot clinical trial for a new, non-surgical epilepsy treatment. Supported by the Prize, this spring Dr. Bubrick’s team will test low-intensity ultrasound beams, which have shown early promise in quieting the brain’s overactivity in 10 drug-resistant, non-surgical epilepsy patients. They hypothesize that stimulating in key brain tissue may disturb seizure production—and may similarly halt brain activity at the root of other neurological and mood disorders.

"I love working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital because this is where the most complex patients come for help,” says Dr. Bubrick. “I want to make their lives a little easier and give them better options—it’s what drives both my work in the clinic and my research.”

Read more about Dr. Bubrick’s project and the BRIght Futures Prize here.

Topics: Clinical Trials, Academic Medical Centers, Scholarship

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