The Institute at the ILAE 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting

Researchers, clinicians and healthcare professionals working in epilepsy came together last week for the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Annual Scientific Meeting. Held this year in Gateshead, the conference saw the official launch of the Epilepsy Research Institute and featured our regular Neurobiology of Epilepsy session.

What is the ILAE?

The ILAE is the world’s pre-eminent association of doctors, health professionals and scientists working in the field of epilepsy, with over 100 national branches. The goals of the ILAE are to advance and disseminate knowledge about epilepsy, improve services and care for patients, and promote research, education and training. Each year the ILAE British Branch hosts a three-day conference to share innovations in epilepsy healthcare and research.

What were the event highlights?

World-leading clinicians and researchers presented their cutting-edge work in areas of fundamental and clinical research, including cognition and neurodegeneration, big data, neuroimaging and neurosurgery.

Introducing the Epilepsy Research Institute, Professor Tony Marson, Programme Director of #Every1EndingEpilepsy, and Maxine Smeaton, Chief Executive of the Institute, gave an overview of the milestones that led to the launch and the Institute’s mission. The co-leads for the strategic research themes of the Institute were announced, and researchers were invited to join The Hub – the Institute’s online researcher discussion forum. We were also delighted to launch the Institute’s inaugural Grant Round and call for applications to join our Scientific Advisory Committee.

It was fantastic to see many familiar faces at the event, with 18 of our previously funded researchers, Trustees and Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) members chairing sessions and discussing findings from their pioneering projects. Dr Amol Bhandare spoke about the role of microglia in chronic epilepsy, Professor Maria Thom discussed her research on neurodegeneration in epilepsy and Mr Lawrence Binding presented on the preservation of white matter tracts during temporal lobe epilepsy surgery. There were posters presented by our Emerging Leaders Fellows Dr Wessel Woldman, Dr Kathryn Bush, Dr Faye McLeod and Dr Amy Richardson. Many of our Doctoral Training Centre PhD students from University of Edinburgh and Newcastle University were also in attendance.

What is the Epilepsy Research Institute’s role in the ILAE conference?  

The Epilepsy Research Institute runs the regular Neurobiology of Epilepsy Session, during which shortlisted early-career researchers compete for the Céline Newman Neurobiology of Epilepsy Award. This year we heard from eight researchers, including Emerging Leader Fellow Dr Amol Bhandare.

We are delighted to announce that Dr Laura Smith from Newcastle University was the winner of this year’s award. Laura is a post-doctoral Research Associate at the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research and was awarded for her presentation on ‘Delineating the neuropathophysiological mechanisms underpinning refractory epilepsy in Alpers’ syndrome’. Huge congratulations to Laura on a thoroughly deserved win! You can read Laura’s recent blog here.

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