European Section building relationships, fostering opportunities
By Prof. Wolfgang Oertel
Chairman, European Section
As the Region with the largest constituency of MDS members, Europe was selected in 2000 to pilot the concept of Regional Sections. The leadership of the Society recognised that those Movement Disorder members living and working in a region would be best placed to respond to any needs, challenges and opportunities arising locally. Karen Henley, the Associate Executive Director of MDS, manages the European Section secretariat from London, giving us a local European presence. The creation of the European Section has been a very successful initiative, such that new Sections have now been created to serve members in the Asia-Oceania, and Pan-American Regions.
Under the Chairmanship of Andrew Lees, Eduardo Tolosa, Niall Quinn and Wolfgang Oertel, the European Section has widened the outreach of the MDS to all corners of Europe over the last eight years, in particular with a number of educational outreach initiatives to Eastern Europe. This outreach has included teaching courses, meeting support, and visiting professorships to the Czech Republic, Georgia, Armenia, Belorussia, Russia, Romania, Siberia, Estonia and Ukraine. MDS experts have been warmly welcomed by local Movement Disorder specialists and general neurologists, many of whom have joined MDS as Waived Dues members. In 2009 MDS-ES will be supporting local educational activities organised by members in Croatia and Romania.
We enjoy a close and fruitful relationship with the European Federation of Neurological Societies. MDS-ES organises the Movement Disorder sessions and Teaching Courses during the annual EFNS Congress, as well as running the popular European Basal Ganglia Club session each year, when a prominent non-European member of MDS presents the annual invited lecture. This collaboration enables us to provide basic and advanced Movement Disorder education, and scientific and clinical updates to our colleagues working in general neurology and other sub-specialty areas. The Chair of MDS-ES chairs the EFNS/MDS-ES Scientist Panel on Parkinson's disease and other Movement Disorders, ensuring full integration of the work of the two societies.
The Section follows the geographical coverage of EFNS, and this coverage is now extending to countries bordering the Southern Mediterranean - Syria, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. MDS-ES and EFNS co-sponsor bursaries for young clinicians and scientists to present their work on Movement Disorder topics during the EFNS Congress, encouraging their continued interest in this area of neurology. The Section provides the Movement Disorder program and faculty for the EFNS Teaching Courses in Eastern Europe, as well as for the EFNS Academy for Young Neurologists.
EFNS publishes guidelines on all areas of neurology in the European Journal of Neurology, and MDS-ES has collaborated to create recommendations for the management of Parkinson's disease, and dystonias. These recommendations, first published in 2006, will be revised this year, in partnership with the MDS Evidence Based Medicine Task Force, and updated European recommendations will be published in 2009.
A most successful stand-alone educational program of MDS-ES has been the first Movement Disorder Summer School for Young Neurologists organised in Marburg, Germany in July 2008 under the chairmanship of Niall Quinn and Wolfgang Oertel. Forty-eight young neurologists enjoyed the unique experience of examining 20 different movement disorders patients under the guidance of a European expert group of 12 movement disorders specialists.
A second 2009 Summer School is planned in Marburg for 2009, building upon the experience of the 2008 event, and it is envisaged that this will become an annual MDS-ES activity, moving to a different country every two years. Another success has been the series of workshops on Dopamine Transporter Imaging, an investigation that is performed in many European countries, but is not available globally. To date 12 workshops have been held or are scheduled for late 2008 / early 2009, and this series may be extended with another two workshops in Europe in 2009. Read more about Summer Schools here.
A Movement Disorder symposium was organised at the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society meeting in Geneva in 2006, and we hope to build further upon this link with the geriatricians, as well as to link to other professional societies and groups in Europe who interface with movement disorders patients, such as general practitioners.
The new structure of the MDS Education Committee, with Europe having its own Regional Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of Joaquim Ferreira, will help to ensure that educational activities in the Region are harmonised, and that new courses will be developed as part of the overall portfolio of activities being conducted in the Region in collaboration with other interest groups.
The Section has the opportunity to contribute to policy development in Europe, and we have contributed to the European Medicines Agency's Guideline on clinical investigation of medicinal products in the treatment of Parkinson's disease - available at www.emea.europa.eu/pdfs/human/ewp/056395en.pdf
A lot has happened in the European field of Movement Disorders in Europe in the last eight years, and there is a lot more to come!