Neurology Update in Kazakhstan

Neurologists from around the world converge in Almaty.

By Aida Kondybayeva

The VI International Educational Forum: Neurology Update in Kazakhstan, took place May 17-18, 2024, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The forum has become an annual tradition for neurologists not only from various regions of Kazakhstan but also from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan, gathering more than 700 doctors online and in person. The forum was supported by the Asfendiyarov Kazakh National Medical University and the Central City Clinical Hospital of Almaty.

The forum featured world-renowned neurologists, including:

  • Paul Boon, MD, PhD, FEAN, president of the European Academy of Neurology, Belgium;
  • Andrei Alexandrov, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Arizona, United States;
  • Thanh Nguyen, MD, FRCPc, FSVIN, FAHA, president of the Society of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, United States;
  • Dieter Ritmacher, PhD, vice dean for research and postgraduate education, professor of neurosciences, at the Nazarbayev University School of Medicine in Astana, Kazakhstan;
  • Valery Feigin, MD, PhD, professor, National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences, School of Clinical Sciences at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand;
  • Celia Oreja-Guevara, MD, vice chair and senior neurologist of the department of neurology at the University Hospital San Carlos, associate professor of neurology at the Universidad Complutense, and head of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University Hospital San Carlos in Madrid, Spain;
  • Ugur Uygunoglu, MD, professor, department of neurology at Istanbul University, Cerrahpasa School of Medicine;
  • Natalia Khachanova, department of neurology and clinical neurophysiology at the Pirogov National Medical and Surgical Center, and neurologist of the MS department of City Clinical Hospital No. 24.

The forum also featured a number of Kazakh speakers, including:

  • Prof. Zhannat Idrisova, Asfendiyarov Kazakh National Medical University;
  • Prof. Gulnar Kabdrakhmanova, Marat Ospanov West Kazakhstan Medical University;
  • Ruslan Belyaev, Karaganda Medical University;
  • Aida Kondybayeva, MD, PhD, Asfendiyarov Kazakh National Medical University;
  • Karlygash Kuzhibayeva, head of the Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Autoimmune, and Orphan Diseases of the Nervous System, in Almaty;
  • Tatyana Kaymak, neurologist at “SanClinic” in Semey; Adil Bisembaev, Private Clinic Almaty.

Next year, the International Educational Forum: Neurology Update in Kazakhstan 2025, will be held on
April 25-26.

We look forward to seeing you in Almaty in 2025! •

Aida Kondybayeva, MD, PhD, FEAN, is head of the Scientific and Educational Center for Neurology and Applied Neuroscience at Asfendiyarov Kazakh National Medical University, and chair of the Educational Committee at Kazakhstan National Association of Neurologists “Neuroscience” and Institutional Delegate at the European Academy of Neurology from Kazakhstan.

Meet the WFN Trustee Candidates

Get to know the candidates for WFN trustee in their own words.

Six candidates have been recommended by WFN’s Nomination Committee for the upcoming election of a trustee at the virtual Council of Delegates (COD) meeting in September and have presented their statements. They are in alphabetical order:

Fernando Cendes

Valery L. Feigin

Miguel Osorno Guerra

Brian Sweeney

Barbara Tettenborn 

Tissa Wijeratne

According to the WFN guidelines, further nominations can be submitted by five member societies 30 days prior to the election date. The deadline for additional nominations will be Friday, July 26, 2024.

Electronic voting will occur over three weeks starting Aug. 26, 2024.

Click the names above to read each candidate’s statements.

Candidate Statement for WFN Trustee: Fernando Cendes

Fernando Cendes

It is with great enthusiasm that I present my candidacy for the position of elected trustee at the WFN 2024 elections. I have the commitment, expertise, and background necessary. I am deeply committed to supporting the WFN’s mission and am eager to contribute my skills and experience to this important work.

I am a former Fellow and completed my PhD at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University, Canada (1991-1997), where I have an appointment as a part-time adjunct professor.

I have been a full-time neurology professor since 1997 and am currently the head of the Neurology Department at the University of Campinas, São Paulo state, Brazil. Our university hospital is a referral center for about four million people with complex neurological diseases. In addition to patient care, I teach and train undergrad and graduate students and neurology residents.

I am the principal investigator of The Brazilian Research Institute for Neuroscience and Neurotechnology (BRAINN), which is one of the Research, Innovation, and Dissemination Centers (RIDC) sponsored by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation) with a 12-year operational grant. This center investigates the basic mechanisms leading to epilepsy and stroke, combining genetics, neurobiology, pharmacology, neuroimaging, computer sciences, robotics, physics, and engineering.

My service as an educator in neurology goes beyond my institution in the form of numerous lectures, teaching seminars, invited conferences worldwide, and participation in various international commissions in the International League Against Epilepsy and other societies. I also served as a member of the program subcommittee of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases and a delegate to the WFN for the Brazilian Academy of Neurology.

I am the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Epilepsia, and I serve on several editorial boards. My research is focused on epilepsy, neuroimaging, and clinical neuroscience, with more than 500 papers published. •

Candidate Statement for WFN Trustee: Valery L. Feigin

Valery L. Feigin

I am a professor of neurology and epidemiology and director of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand; an affiliate professor of the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington (U.S.); visiting professor of Capital Medical University (China); a member of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on NCD-Related Research and Innovation; founder and ex-officio co-chair of the GBD Stroke and Neurology Groups; editor-in-chief of Neuroepidemiology (IF 5.7) and co-chair of the Global Policy Committee of the World Stroke Organization (WSO) where I also served as a member of the Board of Directors, co-chair of the Research Committee, Guidelines Committee, Member-at-Large, and Executive Committee.

I have been working with the WFN for more than a decade as an active neurology advocate (including the Soriano Award Lecture and other public lectures and interviews), and served as a member of the Neuroepidemiology Speciality Group. Together with seven other WHO Stroke Advisory Group members for ICD-11, we justified and argued successfully for the reclassification of stroke as a neurological disease, which was endorsed for global use by the U.N. in 2020.

My 500-plus journal publications (h-index 136) have been cited more than 330,000 times, and used for evidence-based guidelines, health-care planning, priority setting, and resource allocation across the globe.

My motivation to become a trustee of the WFN is to enhance the role of the WFN in the global awareness of neurological disorders and implementation of evidence-based prevention and management strategies, workforce development, and organization of neurological services to reduce the burden of neurological disorders, with strong emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. Given my position on the Global Burden of Disease Study, I would also like to ensure that more WFN members are involved as co-authors/lead authors in the GBD Study collaboration. •

Candidate Statement for WFN Trustee: Miguel Osorno Guerra

Miguel Osorno Guerra

I am honored to be nominated as trustee of the WFN. We are in a time where innovation, collaboration, and organization must meet the diverse needs of different countries.

My name is Miguel Osorno Guerra. My professional experience in both public and private institutions in Mexico has given me insight into the significant deficiencies and challenges in neuroscience education, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas.

As secretary and later president of the Mexican Academy of Neurology (MAN), I contributed to redesigning the Journal of Neuroscience and consolidating the textbook “Elementary Neurology” for medical schools, now in its third edition. Our guiding principle was “what every doctor should know about neurology.” My organizational skills in academic events and congresses, both nationally and internationally, have significantly contributed to the dissemination of neurological knowledge.

I am also a postgraduate professor, working closely with young neurologists, encouraging them to develop research projects. This mentoring is crucial in fostering a new generation of skilled and innovative neurologists.

Our collaboration with the WFN included promoting the certification of three Mexican hospitals and participating in the WFN’s educational programs, enabling young neurologists from Latin America to enhance their skills and positively impact their communities.

My commitment to neurology education aims to improve the quality of neurological care and develop comprehensive programs for addressing neurological diseases. Through my work with the WFN, I have learned two key lessons:

Individual and isolated efforts have limited impact.

Several regions, including Latin America, need better integration with the WFN and should play a larger role in the future.

If elected, I pledge to work diligently with the WFN to achieve our shared goal of improving neurological patient care worldwide. •

Candidate Statement for WFN Trustee: Brian Sweeney

Brian Sweeney

Thank you for considering my application to be a trustee of the WFN. I have had a lifelong commitment to neurology as a clinician and educator. Having trained in medicine and neurology in Ireland and the U.K., I returned home to Ireland in 1996 as one of three neurologists in my province.

I have been a teacher all of my working life, and an administrator as the national specialty director of neurology for the Royal College of Physicians Ireland, a member of the Specialist Certificate Examination Committee of the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) and Royal College of Physicians U.K. As a member of the European Union of Medical Specialists, I have had the privilege of training and working with neurologists from all over the world – Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, and North and South America.

I have been the senior neurologist in my region of Ireland, national lead for neurology for the Health Service Executive, Ireland, and national specialty director for neurology training and dean of the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience.

My experience of working in and trying to develop an understaffed and underfunded neurology service in Ireland from the 1990s through the 2020s gives me insight into the challenges and advances facing neurology worldwide in the 21st century. These include amazing diagnostic and therapeutic developments in areas like stroke, neuroinflammation, neuroradiology and genetics on one hand, with major challenges providing the staffing and other resources to allow people with neurological illness to access these innovations on the other.

My vision is for neurology to keep its clinical soul while embracing new technologies such as AI to better provide care to our patients and their families. •

Candidate Statement for WFN Trustee: Barbara Tettenborn

Barbara Tettenborn

My name is Barbara Tettenborn, I am professor of neurology in Switzerland and Germany. I received my neurological education in Berlin and Mainz, Germany; London, England; Dublin, Ireland; and Boston, United States. I am a general neurologist with special interests in epilepsy, stroke, sports neurology, and brain health. I was chair of the Department of Neurology in St. Gallen, Switzerland, from 1999–2023 and work now as head of the Center for Neurological Preventive Medicine and Sports Neurology in Zürich. I am a very active member of the European Academy of Neurology as editor-in-chief of eLearning and a WFN delegate of the Swiss Neurological Society.

I was board member of the Swiss Neurological Society for eight years, a member of the administrative board at hospital St. Gallen for four years, and treasurer of the Swiss Federation of Clinical Neuro-Societies for four years until 2022. Currently, I am president of the Swiss League against Epilepsy, president of Women in Neurology Switzerland, and president of the Scientific Board of Highly Specialized Medicine Switzerland. My research interests are epilepsy in the elderly, vascular epilepsy, vertebrobasilar ischemia, gender aspects in neurology, brain health, and sports neurology.

Neurology is not only my profession but also my first and favorite hobby. My second hobby is sport, especially triathlon and mountaineering. I like to cooperate and communicate with people and to encourage the next generation. Being recently retired from my department chair position gives me time and energy to take on new tasks. I have a lot of experience in administrative positions and political communication. It would be a great honor for me to serve as trustee of the WFN and I promise to put all my energy, enthusiasm, time, and effort into this position to help give neurology as much worldwide visibility and impact as possible. •

Candidate Statement for WFN Trustee: Tissa Wijeratne

Tissa Wijeratne

I am Prof. Tissa Wijeratne, co-chair for World Brain Day. Since the inception of World Brain Day in 2014, I have been dedicated to making brain health a priority for all. With Prof. Mohammad Wasay, I co-founded this vital initiative to promote global brain health.

Preventative brain health is essential. Nearly one in two people will experience a brain disorder in their lifetime, as highlighted in our latest GBD publication in Lancet Neurology. With the World Health Organization set to release the Intersectoral Global Action Plan (IGAP) toolkit, we have a unique opportunity to promote brain health at the grassroots level.

My extensive experience spans from rural Sri Lanka to urban Australia, providing me with a unique perspective on brain health in different settings. In Australia, I am spearheading a significant movement in preventative brain health with schools, city councils, and state governments recognizing its importance. Our progress shows that awareness and action can lead to meaningful change.

Education and advocacy are key to this effort. I have developed and promoted programs that raise awareness about brain health, providing valuable information in schools, community centers, and workplaces. I have also worked with local and state governments to create policies that support brain health initiatives, including funding for research and public health campaigns.

As a trustee at the WFN, I will bring my experience and dedication to the global stage. I am committed to supporting the mission and vision of the WFN and will work tirelessly to advance our shared goals.

I invite you to visit the WFN YouTube channel, World Neurology, and the WFN website to see how I have contributed to brain health for all since 2005. Your support and vote are crucial.

Together, we can continue to advance preventative brain health and improve lives globally. •