In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

August 5, 2014

Mission: Epilepsy

By In the Loop

Discovery760While it may not be quite the same thing as the "computational challenge" issued by Netflix in 2009 to find the "best collaborative filtering algorithm" to predict how members would rate the shows they watch, researchers from Mayo Clinic and the  University of Pennsylvania say they are hoping a competition they're holding via will similarly generate results when it comes to predicting the onset of seizures for those living with epilepsy.

As and others have reported, researchers from Mayo Clinic and Penn have issued a challenge to "experts in science, analytics and machine learning" that is geared toward improving the way epileptic seizures are predicted and treated. Gregory Worrell, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Physiology at Mayo Clinic, says he's hoping the 165 teams that have entered the competition so far will find a way to achieve the goal of stopping epileptic seizures altogether. "That's the ultimate goal," he tells us. "With these competitions, we're hoping it will be possible to provide patients with a device that can warn them if they're likely to have a seizure and allow them to then avoid dangerous activity and take medications acutely to try and keep the seizures from occurring."

It's a lofty goal, but one that Dr. Worrell says may be a little more attainable thanks to the launch of an online "platform for predictive modelling and analytics competitions." Dr. Worrell says this offers a way to do something different on seizure prediction. "We've published papers, but have never run a contest with prize money before," he says. "With the emergence of, we saw a great opportunity to run a contest to stimulate interest in epilepsy and predicting seizures."

Elson So, M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic and president of the American Epilepsy Society, says the idea for the contest first came to him while looking for "an area of epilepsy" to support with the society's Presidential Initiative Fund. "It was then decided that the competition would be best concluded with the announcement of the winners, and the presentation of their work at the Presidential Symposium in Seattle this December," he says. Dr. Worrell tells us if the interest they're seeing in the competition holds, December could be an exciting month, full of new hope for those living with epilepsy. "The response has been fantastic," he says. "The results are already approaching our best results in the lab, so we're very excited."

You can read more about the competition here. Then, be sure to let us know what you think about this story and others by sharing your thoughts below.

Tags: Dr. Elson So, Dr. Gregory Worrell, epilepsy, research, Research News, seizure

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