The Department of Neurology was delighted to welcome two new Consultant Neurologists in September 2010. Dr. Christopher McGuigan and Dr. Sean O'Riordan, both established Consultants in Charing Cross Hospital in London, have great experience in the fields of Multiple Sclerosis and Movement Disorders respectively. They have already had an impact in their first few months and the Department now functions as the first group practice in neurology in Ireland.
We are running 3 public clinics daily from September 2010. Thus, we have now expanded the neurology outpatient service to 19 outpatient clinics a week which include general neurology clinics and specialist clinics in MS, Parkinson’s, Migraine, and Dystonia. People referred to the service will be reviewed by one of the consultants/team in order to facilitate shorter waiting times, improve access and to speed up the referral process.
We also welcomed Dr. Conor Murphy who is running the first GP lead migraine clinic in Dublin with the support of the Migraine Association of Ireland and Menarini Ireland. It is going really well and feedback from our patients has been extremely positive.
Dr. Juliet Bressan runs a monthly dystonia clinic for musicians and this is kindly supported by Dystonia Ireland and will be sponsored by Allergan in 2011.
We are involved in a number of clinical research initiatives including the development of a web-based electronic referral system termed ‘Neurolink’. The latter won an Irish Times Innovation in Business award in 2010 and was commended by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland at its National Conference. It has now been adapted by other services including the National Cancer Strategy.
The Department has developed the only intranet referral system (to speed up our in- patient consultation service especially for the Emergency Department where we see over 40% of our ‘in-house’ referrals) at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and published our findings in the European Journal of Neurology this year. The Department has also looked at a number of other clinical issues pertinent to out- patient service delivery particularly the area of non-attendance rates (so-called DNA rates). A text message reminder system for patients was introduced and some of our findings are about to be published in the International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance.
We have worked in close collaboration with Catherine Slattery and her team in the IV Therapy Suite and have considerably improved access for people with MS for therapies such as Tysabri. We currently manage 74 people on Tysabri. There were up to 107 on the drug at SVUH at one point.
The Neurology Department is committed to raising the profile of neurology by hosting a consultant lead, bi-annual teaching sessions for the fourth and final year medical students. We have provided UCD with a neurology teaching video which is available for all students on Blackboard and we also have teaching manuals available of our SVUH website.
The Neurology Research Group continues its work in a wide range of areas but especially in those of multiple sclerosis and movement disorders.
Collaborations in the field of MS research and Vitamin D with international groups in Melbourne and Oxford are going well. Collaboration with Biochemist Dr Jennifer Brady (now based at the Mater Hospital, Dublin) continues. We plan to continue our investigation of the role of vitamin D in MS and Clinically Isolated Syndromes. An exciting new project looking at Vitamin D as an immunomdulatory agent is expected to commence in the spring of 2011. The project’s title is ‘Dose-related effects of vitamin D on T-regulatory and Th17 cells in patients with Clinically Isolated Syndrome or early MS and healthy control participants’.
Other aspects of MS research in our Department include studies in immunology, genetics and interferon responsiveness. A number of papers have been recently published from our work in Evoked Potentials in MS with Professor Richard Reilly and Dr. Robert Whelan from the Department of Neural Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, and collaborative studies with the Department of Psychology at UCD.
Neuropsychological assessments of participants with MS, conducted over three years, are on-going as part of a larger study on evoked potentials in MS. Neuropsychological assessments are being completed in collaboration with Sean O’Donnchadha, Marie Claire O Brien, Dr. Jessica Bramham and Dr. Teresa Burke from the School of Psychology, UCD.
Research in dystonia in conjunction with Prof Richard Reilly and Dr Robert Whelan of the Department of Neural Engineering has been funded jointly by the HRB and Dystonia Ireland with a two-year grant. The research involves advanced fMRI techniques to determine the genetic basis of adult onset dystonia.
Our research registrars and collaborators represented our department at several international and national neurology conferences throughout the year presenting our current data. Dr. Roisin Lonergan & Dr. David Bradley our past research registrars in MS and Dystonia recently were awarded first and second prize in the Biogen Idec Publication Prize in Clinical Neuroscience 2009. Dr. Bradley was also awarded Joint Winner Poster Presentation Prize ABN 2010 Bournemouth and Finalist Poster Presentation Prize INA 2010 Dublin