by Tatia Gakharia, Tbilisi, Georgia
It is with great gratitude that I thank the European Academy of Neurology for awarding me a Research Fellowship. I feel really privileged to be given the opportunity as part of my Ph.D. project to expand my knowledge and interest in the field of neuroinflammatory diseases under the supervision of Prof. Dr Ming Lim, at the Children’s Neurosciences Centre, Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which will be one of the highest qualifications in my professional experiences.
Evelina London Children’s Hospital is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Children’s Neuroscience tertiary centre, the second largest provider of children’s services in London and the leading centre of novel treatment and life-changing care for children, which has a high incidence of cumulative data of neuroinflammatory diseases on disposition for clinical or research aspects. Dr Ming Lim and his team run the paediatric brain and spine inflammation service, which seeks to optimise the management of severe childhood neuroinflammatory disorders. He works collaboratively with the Oxford Clinical Neurosciences Group on numerous leading programmes and studies to define childhood central nervous system autoimmune disorders. All team members were supportive, friendly and caring. I am really honoured to be a mentee of such an experienced and appreciated professional, with a humble and inspiring personality, having a great impact on the modern neuroinflammatory field.
Beyond collaboration on data management, statistical expertise, and manuscript writing skills, this fellowship has also provided me with new skills and tools to confront clinical problems with improved radiological and clinical background back in my career in neuroinflammatory disorders: epidemiology, diagnosis and multidisciplinary management, interpretation anti-MOG, anti-NMDA, AQP4 etc antibody results: clinical relevance, interpretation of techniques, results.
During my visit, Dr Lim invited me to a regional research meeting in Birmingham and the EPNS Cambridge Masterclass, where I had the opportunity to meet internationally recognised experts, the Oxford Laboratory Group, honorary consultant neurologists from across the country, and clinician-scientists with amazing experiences and project ideas in the neuroinflammatory field. The Cambridge Masterclass was an extraordinary experience at Corpus Christi College—a very special venue— debating and discussing inflammation. I am proud that as a member of the Evelina team I got a grant for attending a multi-disciplinary workshop with a focus on the interpretation of genomic test results for paediatric syndromic and paediatric neurological disorders in Exeter, organised by south-west genomic laboratory hub. Evelina is an intellectual and infrastructural database involved in crucial national medical training rotations and I am happy I had the opportunity to attend the summer lecture courses of Dr Lim.
I am so happy that within the timing of this project I also completed my goal to process data and published an original article paper Alterations of Plasma Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine Levels in Children with Refractory Epilepsies (Children 2022, 9(10), 1506; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9101506) in a peer reviewed international journal, co-authoring with Dr Ming Lim. We have prepared a new project abstract about NeuroHUS for the BPNA congress 2023. Coming back to my country I clearly see all the opportunities to investigate the future study on the level of excellence. This experience will have a high impact on me in achieving and optimising my critical approach in dealing with new research projects and implementing new treatments. Returning, I am inspired to explore the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, with new ideas for future projects and collaboration about VNS and cytokine alterations.
I genuinely enjoyed exploring London life in my free time, visiting the world famous museums, and amazing greenery areas, attending concerts, and enjoying my time with new colleagues and friends. Every morning coming to the clinic by crossing Westminster bridge on Big Ben time or looking out of the hospital window with a view of parliament, was like a dream, which came true for me living in London for couple of months in this very special year in the UK history with this exceptional support of EAN.