The Neuron Project sells cells to fund epilepsy research.
Walking a particular hallway on the fifth floor in the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research can be a nerve-wracking experience — or at least nerve-hanging. Suspended from the ceiling is an art installation, a series of neon-lit neural cells representing the network of a human brain.
The project is the work of Madison artist Piper Vollmer MFA’07 and was created on behalf of Lily’s Fund, a charity that promotes epilepsy research at the UW. It was installed over the winter and had its public unveiling in March.
Lily’s Fund is named for Lily Giroux, one of the more than 2.7 million Americans who suffer from epilepsy. She’s also the daughter of David Giroux MS’06 and Anne Morgan Giroux ’86, who in 2007 established the fund at the UW Foundation to try to support Wisconsin researchers who are helping people like Lily.
“Each neuron is sponsored by someone who has been touched by epilepsy or wants to support epilepsy research,” says Anne. “But what’s unique is that all of the money we raise stays at the UW.”
The fund launched the Neuron Project in 2012 with the aid of Vollmer and the Boldt construction company. Sponsors give $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 to put their names on neon neurons in different sizes. This year, Lily’s Fund is giving a $100,000 grant to UW researcher Giulio Tononi, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist, so he can study where epileptic seizures begin and how they spread through the brain.
Published in the Summer 2014 issue