Earlier this year, Ataxia UK awarded a travel grant to Dr David Pellerin at University College London, to attend the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. Supporting researchers attending conferences is one of the ways Ataxia UK promotes ataxia research. Conferences offer a highly valuable opportunity to present current research, discuss with peers, and network with other researchers in the field. Dr David Pellerin gave an oral presentation on his work on SCA27B, which we wrote about recently for Research News (click here for our SCA27B article).
This is what Dr Pellerin had to say about his experience attending the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology:
I recently had the privilege of attending the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Boston, MA, USA. This meeting, devoted to all aspects of neurology, brought together medical students, residents, clinicians, and researchers from around the world, covering a diverse array of topics and exciting plenary sessions and workshops.
Key sessions that particularly stood out to me were the plenary sessions on the safety and advancement of gene therapy and CRISPR-based gene therapy. These cutting-edge topics have definite potential to redefine our approach to the treatment of rare hereditary neurological conditions, and being able to learn about the latest developments and challenges from leading world experts was truly enlightening. In addition to the plenary sessions, the meeting featured a wide variety of clinical teaching courses, which covered the latest development in patient care and treatment approaches to common and rare neurological conditions. The poster sessions were also very engaging.
As part of the congress, I had the opportunity to present our research project on the discovery of a novel dominantly inherited GAA repeat expansion in the gene FGF14 as a common cause of late-onset cerebellar ataxia during the late-breaking research session. This work was done in collaboration with Prof. Bernard Brais (McGill University, Canada), Prof. Stephan Zuchner (University of Miami, USA), Dr. Matt Danzi (University of Miami, USA), Prof. Matthis Synofzik (University of Tubingen, Germany), Prof. Henry Houlden (UCL, UK), and Prof. Gina Ravenscroft (University of Western Australia, Australia). This experience was invaluable for the feedback and discussions it prompted. I was excited to see the interest shown by fellow delegates, and I am looking forward to exploring the potential collaborations and opportunities that arose from these discussions. Engaging with experts in the field gave me several ideas to tackle the next steps of the project.
In addition to the academic benefits, the congress provided ample opportunities for networking and building new collaborations. Overall, my time at the AAN Annual Meeting was a truly rewarding experience that expanded my understanding and perspective of the upcoming challenges in neurological care and research. It was a unique opportunity to meet with colleagues engaged in neurology research, establish new collaborations and receive feedback on my work. I wish to sincerely thank Ataxia UK for enabling me to attend this meeting. Their support allowed me to gain new insights, share our team’s findings, and engage in meaningful dialogue with peers, for which I am highly appreciative.