Prime Minister's Prize for innovative epilepsy scientist

Pip Karoly
Dr Pip Karoly has received the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science Prize for New Innovators, for breakthrough scientific research into epilepsy.

University of Melbourne researcher and Seer Medical data scientist Dr Pip Karoly has received the Prize for New Innovators in the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

The prestigious award recognises Dr Karoly’s breakthrough scientific research into epilepsy and the development and commercialisation of a seizure risk forecasting app that allows people living with epilepsy to track their likelihood of having a seizure across hourly, daily or monthly timescales.

By allowing people with epilepsy to monitor and manage seizures at home, the app has the potential to greatly improve quality of life, autonomy and productivity for millions of people around the world living with uncontrolled seizures.

Dr Karoly said not knowing when a seizure will happen can cause a lot of anxiety and risk for people.

“The unpredictability of epileptic seizures exposes people with epilepsy to potential physical harm and restricts day-to-day activities. It can also impact significantly on mental well-being. Giving people with epilepsy the ability to understand their risk of having a seizure within a given period means they can better plan their activities around their seizure risk. Many find the app helpful to manage their anxiety and day-to-day life,” Dr Karoly said.

“The seizure risk forecasting feature on the Seer app is based on my research into long-term cycles of seizure likelihood, which affect most people with epilepsy and are unique to their seizures. The next step will be to run clinical trials of seizure risk forecasting in Australia and the US to understand how to target this technology to best help people with epilepsy. A really rewarding part of my work is being able to span from research through to clinical translation, and work directly with the users of this technology.”

“The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are a wonderful way to show Australians how science and discovery can bridge into innovation and real-world application. To be recognised in the Prizes is overwhelming and a huge honour that will really mean a lot for my career as a scientist. The Prize for New Innovators will give me opportunities to build new collaborations and really grow my research into understanding the human brain.”

Dean of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Engineering and IT, Professor Mark Cassidy, congratulated Dr Karoly on receiving the prestigious award.

“Pip has made outstanding contributions to the University of Melbourne and to the science community more broadly. Her work with Seer has changed the lives of many people living with epilepsy,” Professor Cassidy said.

“We are extremely proud of Pip, her achievements, and this recognition as part of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.”

Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Seer Medical Professor Mark Cook also celebrated Dr Karoly’s dedication to patients and clinical translation.

“Over the past decade I have witnessed Dr Karoly grow from a research assistant into a formidable leader, world-class orator and thought leader across neuroscience, academia and industry. Throughout her career Pip has demonstrated unwavering commitment to clinical translation taking time to understand the patient, their needs and the immediate clinical impact,” Professor Cook said.

“Dr Karoly’s breadth of clinical, commercial and academic acumen have enabled her outstanding scientific and technological achievements in seizure forecasting, leading to direct medical, economic and research benefits.”

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are Australia’s most prestigious awards for outstanding achievements in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science teaching.

The Prizes are presented to researchers who have made a significant contribution to the nation’s scientific and commercialisation capabilities, to science teaching, and to the country’s social and economic wellbeing.