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University of Central Missouri
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itisepilepsy

UCM Alumni Produce Award-Winning Documentary on Epilepsy

Contact Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (March 30, 2010) - It Is Epilepsy: The Challenges and Promises of Automated Seizure Control, a documentary produced by UCM alumni Susan Arthurs and Doug Underwood, will have its world premiere at the Women’s International Film Festival in Miami, Fla., April 2, 2010.

The Kansas City premiere of It Is Epilepsy is planned for May 1 at an appreciation reception for donors, followed by its European premiere at the Swansea Bay Film Festival in Wales May 12.

Susan Arthurs
Susan Arthurs

The documentary also has earned a Gold Kahuna Award for Excellence in Filmmaking, which will be presented to Arthurs and Underwood at the 2010 Honolulu Film Festival April 25.

Arthurs, director and producer of It Is Epilepsy, was a United Airlines pilot who lost her career to epilepsy. She is a former Warrensburg resident and former faculty member of the Department of Aviation at UCM.

Underwood, co-producer and editor of the documentary, is an associate professor in the Department of Communication in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, at UCM, where he teaches video production.

It Is Epilepsy, a nine-year documentary project, provides an overall look at epilepsy and the impact it can have on the lives of those who suffer with seizures and on their families. More than 3 million people in the

United States and at least 60 million people worldwide suffer with epilepsy. More Americans are diagnosed with epilepsy than muscular dystrophy, AIDS, HIV, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease combined.

“Our judges felt that your film demonstrated superior and standout filmmaking and is deserving of our most esteemed award. Your film was among the very best of the several hundreds of films submitted from over 30 countries around the world.” -Rick Weisner, Honolulu International Film Festival

It Is Epilepsy features the promise and hope found in the latest research on predicting and automatically controlling seizures. Patient and family stories show the despair and frustrations suffered by millions of people who live with this disease. Clinicians describe the different types of epilepsy and current treatments. But it is the unpredictability of seizures that can be the most crippling and have the greatest impact on safety, life span and quality of life.

Doug Underwood
Doug Underwood

An extraordinary, multi-disciplinary team of scientists - neurologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, neurosurgeons and engineers - developed a system that predicts/detects seizures and are currently developing a method of preventing seizures from even taking place, providing hope to the millions of people who suffer with or are affected by epilepsy.

Lack of public awareness of epilepsy is one of the biggest roadblocks to expediting research, which will ultimately improve life for all who are affected by this disorder. It Is Epilepsy tells this important story to the public and helps shed light on epilepsy, the hidden disease.

Arthurs co-founded the Alliance for Epilepsy Research, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, which is the executive producer of the documentary. It Is Epilepsy was created to increase the public awareness of epilepsy and provide hope for those who have epilepsy in their lives.

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the Alliance for Epilepsy Research, Arthurs created and is marketing a series of books with interactive CDs containing ideas and resources for aviation and space activities for grades K-12. Arthurs received a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education- mathematics from Penn State University and a Master of Science degree in aviation safety from UCM.

Underwood’s previous documentary work includes A Jazz Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Mothers and the Black Church, and Whitewater Saint.  Underwood received a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcasting from Northwest Missouri State University, a Master of Arts degree in media communications from Webster University, and an Education Specialist degree in multi-media communication from UCM.

“This has been the most important documentary project I have ever worked on,” Underwood said.  “My thanks go out to Susan and my department, college and university for allowing me to be a part of something so vitally important for so many people.”