Alumna works to find cure for epilepsy

Beth Lewin Dean ’90 didn’t know it when she attended Cornell College, but her path would lead her to work that would impact millions of lives.

Beth Lewin Dean headshot
Beth Lewin Dean ’90

She recently accepted the job as the chief executive officer of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE)–which she says is the No. 1 non-governmental research agency for epilepsy.

“It’s a very rewarding job, knowing how prevalent epilepsy is, knowing how underfunded epilepsy research is, and knowing the impact our work can have on someone’s life,” Lewin Dean said. “The ability to help drive change makes you want to get up and come to work every day.”

The nonprofit organization is at the forefront of epilepsy research. It has already raised more than $60 million to fund research grants and other programs. According to CURE’s website, mortality rates among people with epilepsy are three times the rate of the general population, and sudden death rates are more than 20 times higher. Lewin Dean says her Chicago-based team hopes to get more people talking about the disease, which impacts more people than many realize.   

“There is a huge stigma around epilepsy,” Lewin Dean said. “Three-point-four million people in the U.S. have epilepsy but people don’t talk about it. There’s shame or embarrassment or they are worried it will affect their job, friendships, or relationships.” 

Lewin Dean was a double major at Cornell College, studying politics and environmental studies. After Cornell, she went on to get two master’s degrees: a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Affairs from Indiana University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. She has worked as an environmental consultant and worked in marketing pharmaceuticals. 

She says Professor Emeritus of Politics Craig Allin was very influential in the direction she chose, initially focusing on a career in the environment. One Course At A Time also helped her rise above the rest during her career.

One Course At A Time teaches you to focus and it teaches you to learn quickly,” Lewin Dean said. “On the pharmaceutical side, that was really important. You might be working on an epilepsy drug so you have to learn the epilepsy disease state, you have to learn the science behind how your drug works, you have a lot of information you have to learn quickly in order to do your work–to commercialize and market the drug. A year or two later, you could be switched to a different drug in a completely different therapeutic area. You need to become an expert on your product and the disease, and you don’t have the luxury of going to medical school, so you have to get up to speed fast.”

Dean is looking forward to raising money for additional research for epilepsy and raising money in the coming years as the new CEO of CURE. Anyone who would like to donate or find out more about their cause can contact Lewin Dean at or visit their website.