Epilepsy Research UK has a proud history of organising international expert workshops on ‘hot topics’ in epilepsy research. Since their inception in 1993 the intention has been to bring together some of the best minds in epilepsy research from around the world to share new research findings, and to discuss and debate novel approaches to furthering our understanding and treatment of epilepsy.
The first ERUK international expert workshop in 1993 focused on what was then a highly topical theme: that of video games and epileptic seizures. The session was so successful that it was decided that it should become a recurring biennial event.
And that brings us to March 2019 when the 12th international expert workshop will be taking place. Our theme this year is ‘Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Epilepsy’ and once again the workshop will provide an opportunity for global experts in epilepsy to share research findings, learn from each other, to forge collaborations and so to accelerate breakthroughs in our understanding and treatment of this condition. This year invitees will be travelling from the United States, Australia, Europe and from all across the UK to attend the event.
As a parent of a child with Ohtahara Syndrome (characterised by early onset intractable seizures), David and Samantha Cameron have endorsed this workshop stating that “More research is fundamental to ensure that families are able to access the best possible treatments for their children. We hope this workshop will help define the key research priorities, build on international collaboration, as well as encouraging further investment”.
Looking back through the workshop archives reminds us of the breadth of topics covered, from epilepsy and pregnancy to the genetics of epilepsy and more recently, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). It is undeniable that the cutting-edge discussions and intensely stimulating environment that is created enthuses the participants to even greater research efforts. As Consultant paediatric neurologist Professor Sameer Zuberi, one of the co-chairs for this years’ workshop and a previous recipient of a ERUK grant says “The aim of the workshop is to present new research, introduce novel concepts, and through enthusiastic debate and discussion to identify new ways forward in epilepsy research. We hope that bringing together many of the world’s leading neuroscientists and epilepsy researchers to focus on one topic from many different perspectives will spark new insights and forge new friendships and collaborations.”
Beyond this the workshops have made real progress in furthering our understanding of various aspects of epilepsy and bringing benefit to those who have the condition. Attendees publish the proceedings in scientific journals such as Epilepsia, Epilepsy Research and the Journal of Physiology in order to share the outputs with the wider research community. This in turn helps to promote further investigation into the specific areas of epilepsy that are the focus for each workshop. Discussions in the workshops have also influenced policy at European level.
As Professor Bruno Frenguelli, Chair of ERUK’s Scientific Advisory Committee, says “The expert workshops are a flagship event in ERUK’s calendar. They are an opportunity to gather together experts from across the globe to critically appraise our understanding of the aetiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of one aspect of the many faces of epilepsy.”
We will keep you up to date with more news as we approach the workshop, so make sure to visit our website here and follow us on twitter @ERUKresearch and for more information on previous ERUK international expert workshops, please click here: