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Vice President Biden helps raise $800K for epilepsy research

Obamcampaign advisor David Axelrod right introduces U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Citizens United for Research Epilepsy annual fundraising event Tuesday

Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod, right, introduces U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy annual fundraising event on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 in Chicago. Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel were among the 900 people who attended a fundraiser. (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)

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Updated: June 22, 2011 5:42PM

Vice President Joe Biden took time out from budget negotiations in Washington Tuesday to help raise $800,000 for epilepsy research.

It’s the pet project of Susan Axelrod, wife of President Barack Obama senior adviser and campaign strategist David Axelrod. The Axelrods said they thought they were alone when their daughter Lauren started having seizures at the age of seven months.

“Three million people in this country are affected,” Susan Axelrod said.

Biden chimed in: “Epilepsy is as common as breast cancer and takes more lives than breast cancer.” But, “I don’t think anybody has any idea, beyond this room, just how many people are affected.”

Biden spoke at Navy Pier, where 900 people gathered to raise money for Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy.

Nearby is Obama’s re-election headquarters where Axelrod said he plans to put Biden to use over the next year and a half. Biden also raised an undisclosed amount for his and Obama’s re-election effort. His closed-to-the-press fund-raiser for high-end donors was held at Riva’s restaurant on Navy Pier.

“He obviously has deep, deep roots in the industrial Midwest running fro m Pennsylvania, right across,” Axelrod said as he motioned with his hand. “He’s been an integral part of what we’ve done. He is a great asset and we’ll use him fully.”

Biden spoke of his cranial aneurysm 24 years ago that landed him on an operating table where a doctor told him he had a 30 percent chance to live and a grave chance he would lose his ability to speak .

The notoriously verbose Veep quipped, “I said, ‘Why the hell couldn’t this have happened earlier?’”

The operation succeeded. He spent seven months on the same anti-seizure medications many in the audience have to give their children, he said.

The Obama administration has earmarked $700 million for research into epilepsy and brain diseases, he said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, science is back,” Biden said to cheers.

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