AOS Fellowship Program Australia

Contributed by Dr. Tai Tran
University Medical Center at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


I have just finished a six-month training course in deep brain stimulation (DBS) at the Asia-Pacific Center for Neuromodulation (APCN), University of Queensland, Australia. My training from February 18 to August 17, 2013 was supported by both the AOS Training Fellowship Program and the Deep Brain Stimulation Fellowship Program of the APCN.

My experience during this program was excellent. I received a very warm welcome from everyone at the APCN and St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital, Brisbane. The program is managed by Professor Helen Chenery, Director of the APCN, by Neurologist Peter Silburn, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at The University of Queensland, and by Neurosurgeon Terry Coyne, Associate Professor at the University of Queensland Center for Clinical Research. They helped to organize my travel, accommodation and study room, equipped with a computer, at both the APCN and hospital. Additionally, I was registered as staff of the APCN. This provided me with access to the University of Queensland website, library and also allowed me to interact with other famous DBS centers in the world.

Within 6 months, I learned the basic and comprehensive knowledge of DBS and its applications. I was also trained on how to diagnose and select patients suitable for DBS therapy, to target directly and indirectly, to assess electrophysiologically and clinically in the operating room, to identify lead location and follow-up postoperatively, to program initially and chronically, and much more.

Everything was presented in a very clear, practical and scientific manner. I took part in 57 instances of DBS procedures with Subthalamic Nucleus (STN), Globus Pallidus Interna (GPi), Ventralis Intermedius Nucleus (VIM), Pedunculopontine Nucleus (PPN) and Nucleus Accumbens(NAc) targets. These cases included treating Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, dystonia, generalized chorea and Tourette syndrome. In addition, I also had the opportunity to experience the diverse Australian culture through festivals, sports, food and beach barbecue.

The AOS Training Fellowship program is a perfect opportunity for Neurologists to benefit from a greater understanding of movement disorders. Being trained in DBS at the APCN, I was able to gain experience in the field as well as learn about the diverse and excellent Australian culture.

I would like to sincerely thank Professor Helen Chenery, Professor Peter Silburn, Associate Professor Terry Coyne and all officials of the APCN, the University of Queensland and St Andrew's Hospital, who helped me to accomplish the training course. I would also like to thank the MDS-AOS Leadership who accepted me and provided me with the opportunity to take part in the AOS Training Fellowship Program.

APCN hosts the 2012 MDS-AOS Training Fellowship Program

Professor Helen Chenery, Director APCN
Professor Peter Silburn, Lead Clinician, APCN

Dr. Tai Tran was awarded the MDS- AOS 2012 Training Fellowship with the Asia­ Pacific Centre for Neuromodulation as host site. Professor  Peter Silburn, Neurologist and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at The University of Queensland was his supervisor and mentor.

The Asia-Pacific Centre for Neuromodulation (APCN) was established in 2012 to serve as a nucleus for the development of an integrated ,regional,program of research, education and clinical care in the growing field of neuromodulation in the Asia-Pacific. The Centre's two founding partners, The University of Queensland and St. Andrews War Memorial Hospital, bring to the Centre a decade of research and clinical innovation in deep brain stimulation.From this foundation, APCN is welcoming new collaborative partnerships with clinicians, research scientists and institutions across the Asia-Pacific region. APCN's strategic mission arises from the interface between enabling medical technologies,the human brain and emphasizes the integration of research, education  and clinical care for the greatest human benefit.

A key pillar of APCN is education and in 2012, we have hosted two, 6 month DBS fellows as well as a 12 month fellow in Neuropsychiatry. As part of our education mission, we have also hosted more than 10 short term visits by clinicians from Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific.

Dr. Tai Tran's fellowship consisted of a structured curriculum with learning objectives, content  modules and deliverables. The curriculum is delivered  via an on-line portal. The clinical component focused on DBS patient assessment for surgery involving a variety of disorders. It also included surgical target planning, intraoperative neurophysiological training and intraoperative patient assessment. The training included postoperative patient management involving  DBS programming and drug modification. In the six month  program there was training in nearly 60 cases. Dr. Tai Tran was based primarily in the rooms of Prof. Silburn and St. Andrews Hospital. The University of Queensland's Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) also offered space and facilities to Dr. Tai Tran during his fellowship. He was invited to participate in all the research and training opportunities offered through UQCCR. This also included access to the library and other facilities.

We were pleased to collaborate with University of Florida and Vanderbilt University on aspects  of the fellowship. This collaboration included a group teleconference and a face-to-face event at the 17th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders in Sydney. We hope that Dr. Tai Tran learned a great deal from his time at APCN and will lead and form a solid basis for the development of DBS in Vietnam in a variety of disorders. Equally,we learned much from Dr. Tai Tran about the practice of neurology in Vietnam and their approach to health practice and reform. It was our privilege to host Dr. Tai Tran for his fellowship and we know that we will keep in close contact over the coming years to continue our warm friendship and ongoing collaboration with him and his colleagues. Dr. Tai Tran was a worthy recipient of the 2012 MDS-AOS Training Fellowship and an exemplary ambassador for his country.


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