Epilepsy Awareness

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder and affects people of all ages. Seizures are a common characteristic of epilepsy either predictable or unpredictable, and epilepsy often includes other health problems. One of the largest challenges facing people with epilepsy is the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding the disorder. If you would like to contribute to further research on epilepsy causes and treatments, please visit our donation page.

The epilepsy team at the HBI has strong links to the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute creating full-spectrum epilepsy treatment spanning all ages. The team comprises a variety of researchers from different faculties and departments. Meet the team

Living with Epilepsy

Nicole with husband

Meet Nicole

Nicole Janssen is CEO of Alta ML, a massively successful Edmonton based AI company, a mother and wife, a horse-back rider and advocate for epilepsy awareness. Nicole was first diagnosed with epilepsy in 2019, and faced the challenge of discovering what that diagnosis meant for her.

Read Nicole's Story


Meet Derek

Derek Payne is an active member of Calgary’s community, having held various CFO and VP roles for companies like DIRTT and Westjet. He is currently an advisor to multiple initiatives and companies working in epilepsy, as well as a dedicated father and husband, and cross-fit coach!

Derek was first diagnosed with epilepsy in 1999, and had brain surgery in 2015.


Epilepsy can be a very isolating disorder, but it doesn't have to be. Support and understanding are vital - sharing lived experience is the first step to breaking the stigma.

Derek Payne

Quick facts


Epilepsy Challenges & Myths

doctor and patient

Epilepsy is not contagious

You cannot catch epilepsy. Epilepsy is triggered by a variety of possible triggers, like head injury or specific long-term illness. In many cases, the cause of seizures is not identifiable. This is one reason why more research and funding is needed.


Epilepsy is not solved

Epilepsy is a chronic condition. There are drug and surgery treatment options for people living with epilepsy, but these are not always effective and often have side effects. There is a critical need for further funding and research to discover new and improved treatments


Epilepsy is not that rare

There are more than twice the number of people in Canada with epilepsy, as there are with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis, combined. Epilepsy can present as a condition on its own, or accompany other conditions affecting the brain

Research Highlights

The Ketogenic Diet Impact on Infantile Spasms

Dr. Morris Scantlebury’s research is focused on a ketogenic diet as a potential treatment for infantile spasms. These studies are supported by the community through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, and HBI. Read more about this treatment here.

Revolutionary Robotic Laser Surgery as Seizure Treatment

Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) combines robotics, magnetic resonance imagery and laser-directed heat to burn off brain tumours. Read more about the usage of this treatment here.

The Use of Zebrafish in Modelling Epilepsy Treatments

Dr. Deborah Kurrasch is exploring new models for epilepsy treatment, including the benefits and limitations of zebrafish modelling in discovering new antiseizure drug treatments. Read the full publication here.