Free Registration for WCN 2019 in Dubai Offered for Tournament of the Minds Teams

By Richard Stark

The Tournament of the Minds has been a feature of the World Congress of Neurology (WCN) since the meeting in London in 2001. The aim of the tournament has always been to amuse as well as to educate. Over the years, contestants have faced questions that tested not only their knowledge of neurology but also of the history and regional variations of our discipline.

The task of putting the questions together has always been a huge one, with major input from the host society. An experienced committee reviews the questions and tries to format them in such a way that the disadvantage of having English as a second language is minimized. This means relying as far as possible on visual clues and structuring questions so that reading speed is not vital.

The success of the tournament has always relied on the willingness of the contestants to play their role: No one should underestimate the courage and generosity required to appear on a stage and engage in a battle of wits with international colleagues.

To give a feeling of some of the questions asked, pictured here are questions from 2015 (Santiago) and 2017 (Kyoto).

The level of engagement in the tournament has fluctuated. In Sydney in 2005, there were no fewer than 16 teams entered. More recently, teams tend to have been put together at the last moment so that even some large countries have not fielded a team. Despite this, the standard of the questions and the performance of the stronger teams has remained excellent.

The Scientific Program Committee for WCN2019 in Dubai has confirmed its strong commitment to the tournament and has agreed to promote it with the intention of broadening its appeal. The key to achieving this will be for countries to nominate their teams well in advance. This will enable proper planning and will encourage those supporting each team to participate as audience members.

The format for the tournament will be the same as in recent conferences. There will be an initial knock-out session for all competing teams of 20 multiple choice questions. Audience members will have voting pads so that after each question, the answer is revealed, and we see how well the audience has performed! The top eight teams from this session will proceed to the semi-finals. In each semi-final, four teams answer 20 questions in a “first to the buzzer” format. The top two teams from each semi-final progress to the grand final, which again consists of 20 “first to the buzzer” questions.

Each team consists of up to four members for each session. Substitutes are permitted if a team member is unavailable for a particular session.

To encourage countries to nominate teams for the tournament in 2019, the Scientific Program Committee has made a generous offer:

If any country’s society nominates a team of up to four members one month before the WCN2019, each of those four members will be entitled to a refund of their registration fees once they have completed all rounds of the tournament for which they qualify.

Furthermore, the four members of the winning team will be offered free registration for WCN 2021 in Rome.

We leave the policy of selecting teams to each member society. Many will choose to select bright young neurologists who might not, without the refund, be able to attend the conference. Others with a competitive spirit may simply choose what they perceive to be their strongest team. However, we encourage all member societies to put a team together, giving team members a great chance to engage in this educational and entertaining activity.

Answers to the questions are:

C: Easter Island or Rapa Nui. The macrolide was named rapamycin after Rapa Nui where it was discovered. TOR is an acronym for “target of rapamycin.”

C: Hiroshi Kawahara. He described the condition in 1897, 71 years before Kennedy in 1968.

WFN Junior Traveling Fellowship: The 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference

By Jorge J. Llibre Guerra

The 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) was held in July in Chicago, Illinois. The AAIC is the largest and most influential international meeting dedicated to advancing dementia science. Each year, AAIC convenes the world’s leading basic science and clinical researchers, next-generation investigators, clinicians, and the care research community to share research discoveries that will lead to methods of prevention and treatment, and improvements in diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease.

The AAIC was followed by the 33rd International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International meeting organized by the Alzheimer’s Disease International Society. This meeting is the place for gathering all of the regional and country societies from all over the world, making it possible to develop regional collaboration and advance the development of international policies in dementia.

This year, it was a great pleasure to receive the WFN Junior Traveling Fellowship, making it possible to attend the lectures and discussions on ongoing research projects in both meetings. This was also a unique opportunity to make new contacts and expand collaboration. It was also an honor to have and actively participate in the meeting and present the results of our ongoing research project as oral and poster presentation.

Presentations included:

Oral Presentations: African Admixture: Implications for Cognitive Decline in AD. ISTAART Diversity and Disparities Professional Interest Area leadership. Ancestry Background: Implications for Cognitive Decline and Mortality in Dementia.

Poster Presentation: Prevalence and Incidence of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Older Frailty in Latin America, China and India. a 10/66 Population Based Survey.

The projects presented during the conferences are also the result of teamwork and collaboration. I would like to acknowledge our research team for the accomplished results. In overall, attendance to both meetings was successful and helpful for my future development as a clinician and researcher. Knowledge acquired during the conference and the newly develop collaborations will improve future research projects.

Finally, attendance of the Congress was supported by the WFN, and I want to share my gratitude to the WFN for this great opportunity. Thank you also to the WFN staff and leadership for their support. The WFN Junior Traveling Fellowship is a unique opportunity to create access and share experiences among junior researchers. •

Jorge J. Llibre Guerra, MD, MSc, is from the National Institute of Neurology in Havana, Cuba.

WFN Junior Traveling Award: Report of My Attendance at the Peripheral Nerve Society Meeting

By Dr. Alagoma Iyagba

The 2018 Peripheral Nerve Society Meeting took place July 21-25 in Baltimore, Maryland.

It started with an all-day educational course (basic and clinical aspect of peripheral nerve and neuromuscular diseases). The conference proper started July 22. It featured plenary sessions, oral poster sessions, poster sessions, and industry sessions. (These took place at the end of each day.)

The meeting afforded me the opportunity to see groundbreaking and cutting-edge research on diseases of the peripheral nerve and neuromuscular disorders.

I had two poster presentations:

– Development and psychometric properties of the HANP-Q: a new instrument for measuring neuropathic pain in HIV-AIDS (Poster 13).

– Diagnostic accuracy of the HANP-Q: a novel tool for measuring neuropathic pain in HIV-AIDS persons (Poster 25).

The presentations were well received. The questionnaire was said to be simple to understand and easy to apply in clinical and research settings. Suggestions for future research include doing an external validation of the questionnaire.

The conference afforded me the opportunity to network with colleagues. Of special mention are Prof. Mary Reilly, Dr. Alexander Rossor, and Dr. Mohammed Mahdi-Rogers (all from the Center for Neuromuscular Diseases at King’s College in London), Prof. Hans-Peter Hartung (Germany) and Dr. Catherine Mamah (U.S.). They were all excited at my attending the meeting and gave me encouragement and guidance for the future.

On the fourth day of the conference, we had the Annual General Meeting. When the map of participating countries was projected, I was the only participant from Africa save for some South Africans.

On the last day of the meeting, I was part of the inaugural meeting (foundation member) of the Toxic Neuropathy Consortium of the Peripheral Nerve Society, which was initiated by Prof. Guido Cavalleti (Milan, Italy) in February 2018.

On the whole, the meeting was an eye opener for me with respect to this very rare field of neurology in Africa. It has exposed me to the state of the art and science of peripheral nerve and neuromuscular diseases.

I am grateful to the World Federation of Neurology and the Education Committee for selecting me for this travel fellowship. •

Dr. Alagoma Iyagba is from the Neurology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria University of Port Harcourt in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

German Neurological Society and World Federation of Neurology: Department Visit Report

By Biniyam Alemayehu

I would like to thank WFN and the German Neurological Society for giving me this rare educational opportunity to visit one of the state-of-the-art neurology centers. On my first day at the Universitätsklinikum-Erlangen, Department of Neurology, I was warmly welcomed and introduced to all the staff by Prof. Hagen B. Huttner, as Prof. Stefan Schwab was on the leave, who I had an opportunity to meet on the following Monday. He also warmly welcomed me. Prof. Huttner arranged weekly rotational visits for me in the following fashion:

Week 1: Emergency room

Week 2: Stroke unit and neurointensive care unit

Week 3: Electrophysiology unit

Week 4: Epilepsy unit

Week 1:

During my one-week observation in the ER, I had the opportunity to observe first-hand how patients are handed over from paramedics to a treating ER neurologist. I also saw how they quickly engage in evaluating the patients and investigating the patients based on patient complains, especially their approach to stroke patients. These patients are possible candidates for IV thrombolysis, in which the neurologist and ER nurses are highly organized and coordinated in immediately preparing the tPA kit and taking the patient to the CT scan room, in the overall effort to minimize door to needle time.

I had an opportunity to observe the “Teleneurology” service at the ER, in which those nearby health facilities, networked with Universitätsklinikum-Erlangen, had a real-time video discussion with the neurologist in charge and consult the patient’s condition and imaging.

Week 2:

During my second week, I had the opportunity to attend daily rounds at the stroke unit and was able to observe the quality of care that intermediately sick patients with different neurological disorders, including stroke, TIA, GBS, and brain tumor patients, get during their admission to the unit.

I also had an opportunity to visit the neurointensive care unit, a 12-bed unit, equipped with state-of-the-art neurocritical care equipment, including continuous EEG monitoring.

Week 3:

In my one-week observation in the electrophysiologic unit, I had an opportunity to observe how ultrasound guided EMG is done in different patients with neurological disorders. I  also had an opportunity to observe while other EDx tests are done, including NCS, and evoked potentials. Finally, I had an opportunity to observe botulinum toxin injection sessions for patients with blepharospasm, hemifacial spasm, and spasticity.

Week 4:

During my final week at the hospital, I attached to the epilepsy unit, helping with 24-hour EEG monitoring in patients who need pre-surgical evaluation and for diagnostic purposes.

In our Setup

During my four week stay at U.K.-Erlangen hospital, I had an opportunity to observe how patients with different neurological disorders are managed in an ideal setup. As the second most populous country in Africa and home to different international organizations, its high time for us to establish at least one neurology care center that can give a standard neurological care to our patients and become a center for neuroscience research.

I am fully aware that this is a long shot, but we need to work hard and push the policymakers to give due attention on the need to have at least one excellent neurology center, which will have a well-equipped ER, neurocritical care units, stroke unit, and epilepsy units in Ethiopia. In the meantime, I am highly motivated and enthusiastic to improve the current neurology care in our facility by using the experiences I acquired at U.K.-Erlangen. I am planning to work hard in the following areas as a priority:

  • Creating public awareness about stroke and TIA and establishing a referral network system with nearby hospitals.
  • Short of availability of tPA, optimizing stroke care, by establishing a stroke unit and improving neurorehablitation for our patients.
  • Optimizing emergency management of patients with neurological disorders.
  • Strengthening our electrodiagnostic unit by increasing the number and quality of the tests we do currently.
  • Strengthening the care we are giving our epilepsy patients currently.
  • Training our staff in different neurology fellowship training in order to keep improving the current care and ability to accommodate ever increasing neurosciences care.

I’m optimistic that the future is brighter for neurologists like me. Such a departmental visit gave us the highlight of how care for patients with neurological disorders are much advanced and ever growing in the future.

I am hopeful that both WFN and DGN will keep helping our hospital in the future, especially in capacity building of our staffs and in our effort to improve the neurology care in Ethiopia. I’m really fortunate to have met Prof. Stefan Schwab, who is really interested in establishing future collaboration between his hospital and our hospital. I hope he will visit our center in the near future and support our endeavors.

Finally, I would like to thank all the staff at Universitätsklinikum-Erlangen for their hospitality during my rotation at different units. •

Biniyam Alemayehu is assistant professor of Neurology at the AAU College of Health Sciences in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

WFN Junior Traveling Fellowship: 13th European Congress on Epileptology

By Dr. Prisca-Rolande Bassolé

I am Dr. Prisca-Rolande Bassolé, a young neurologist, epileptologist, clinical neurophysiologist, teaching and research assistant in neurology at El Hadj Ibrahima Niasse private University / College of Medicine Saint Christopher Iba Mar Diop of Dakar, Senegal.

I had a great honor to participate in the 13th European Congress on Epileptology (ECE) in Vienna, Austria. I’m grateful to the World Federation of Neurology for supporting my attendance at this international congress.

The conference was held Aug. 26-30 at the Messe Wien Congress Center in the beautiful city of Vienna.

During my training in neurology, I developed an interest in epileptology so it was a personal, educational, and impactful experience for me.

I appreciated all of the topic sessions, especially those on epilepsy in childhood, the gut microbiota and epilepsy: is there a link?, clinical neurophysiology, epilepsy and stroke, can we do better? I also enjoyed the teaching courses that I attended. They included how to diagnose epilepsy, which helped me to enhance my knowledge of epilepsy.

I presented my abstract, ‘‘Early Epileptic Encephalopathies with Suppression Burst’’ Aug. 27. The abstract presentation afforded me the opportunity to meet other specialists in epileptology and clinical neurophysiologists, working on similar research areas.

Discussing with them made us develop other research topics that could help improve the diagnosis and follow-up of our patients, particularly in developing countries.

Thank you to my mentor, Prof. Mansour Ndiaye, who supported my application. Thank you again to the WFN for giving me this international scientific opportunity. •