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International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
Main Content

Getting involved in the MDS: a fruitful relationship

June 26, 2023
In this episode, Michele Matarazzo highlights the relevance of our society for the field and its members, with special guest Njideka Okubadejo.

[00:00:00] Michele Matarazzo: Hello and welcome to the MDS Podcast, the podcast channel of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. I am Michele Matarazzo, the editor-in-chief of the podcast. Today we wanted to highlight the relevance of our society, for our field, and for our members, and we will do it in this special issue with a very special guest that I'm very pleased to have with me on the podcast.

Njideka Okubadejo is a professor of neurology at the College of Medicine at University of Lagos in Nigeria. Welcome, Njideka it is an honor to have you here on the podcast.

View complete transcript

[00:00:34] Njideka Okubadejo: Thank you very much, Michele.

[00:00:36] Michele Matarazzo: So let's start this interview with a straightforward question. When did you become a member of the MDS?

[00:00:42] Njideka Okubadejo: Okay. I think I joined the MDS around 2003. May have been 2004. I had become a neurologist at the time and definitely had an interest in movement disorders, and when I heard about the society, I went ahead and joined.

[00:00:55] Michele Matarazzo: Okay. And what can you tell us about the MDS back then? How was [00:01:00] it and how has it changed over the years?

[00:01:02] Njideka Okubadejo: The MDS back then was definitely smaller in terms of the numbers of people who were associated with the MDS attending the congresses. Over the years, that number has certainly multiplied. The other thing about the MDS is initially in the earlier years, I guess it wasn't as diverse as it is now. Right now the MDS is a really diverse association in terms of not just the mix of neuroscientists and neurologists, neurosurgeons, allied health professionals, students, and so forth that are members of the MDS, but also in terms of the mix of the geographic location from which the MDS members come.

So it has really grown in terms of diversity as well. 

[00:01:48] Michele Matarazzo: Yeah, many things have changed as you were saying, and certainly you have been part of this change. How do you think you have contributed to the evolution of the MDS over the years?

[00:01:58] Njideka Okubadejo: I think just being a member of the [00:02:00] MDS was a contribution in itself and just representing the African continent and showing my colleagues who were interested in becoming part of the MDS that were very welcome to be part of the MDS. But also engaging with the committees within the MDS and also working with the MDS leadership, really starting with a couple of presidents go to establish the Africa section and working with colleagues who had a special interest in neurology in Africa as part of the initial task force on Africa's special interest group of Africa. And then evolving over time to the MDS Africa section. So I had the privilege and opportunity of working with MDS leadership that was really willing to expand the geographic diversity of MDS in that direction in order to be able to achieve that.

[00:02:54] Michele Matarazzo: So, I didn't say that at the beginning because I thought you would say this now, but yes, you're very humble. You didn't, [00:03:00] so you're, currently the chair and the first chair of the African section of the MDS. So I think you have contributed quite a lot actually to the growth of the MDS over the years. And, well, I think we should all be grateful to you for that and all the work that you're doing in that sense, and to increase the diversity as you were mentioning.

Now let me ask you also, what about the other way around? Do, do you think that the MDS has said an impact on your career, both as a clinician and in your academic career or research?

[00:03:28] Njideka Okubadejo: So Michele absolutely. Yes. That's a definite yes for me. I definitely agree that the MDS has probably impacted me much more than whatever I've been able to contribute to the MDS. The MDS is a very unique organization in that you have a collection of people who are not just dedicated to the field of movement disorders, but are somewhat very unique in that they're very willing to share the expertise that they have and the education that they have, and support people to grow in their career.[00:04:00] 

So I've been a beneficiary of that. The MDS's education programs are, as you know, fantastic. The opportunities that they provide for networking with colleagues and forging collaborations with colleagues across the globe is absolutely phenomenal. I belong to other associations and I haven't seen that.

And the willingness that the MDS has to really identify what the difficulties are for people in different geographic zones or in different stages of their career, and provide solutions to ensure that people are able to advance their career and ultimately give better care to their patients. So the MDS has impacted my career.

I don't think that I would be where I am in my career today in terms of the exposure I have and the research collaborations that I'm engaged in and the benefit I've been able to give to my mentees and my patients, if not for the MDS and the support from the MDS.

[00:04:56] Michele Matarazzo: Great. And do you think that being part of the MDS also helped [00:05:00] you help others in their own careers?

[00:05:02] Njideka Okubadejo: I think so, I know many colleagues who by their association with the MDS, have advanced in their career. So one example would be colleagues who are academic neurologists, for instance, researchers. The MDS provides these platforms for you to network with colleagues through committees and so forth.

So, for instance many of them have become engaged with committees that undertake projects that leads to publications that are important for their career advancement. I also have colleagues who have benefited from the trainings that the MDS offers, and in doing that, they've also been able to improve their professional development and become specialists in the field even without having any formal training of like a fellowship in movement disorders that is scarcity in many parts of the world.

So definitely many colleagues have been impacted in that way.

[00:05:58] Michele Matarazzo: Fantastic. Now, what [00:06:00] plans do you have for the future of the MDS? How do you want to keep contributing to its growth, and how do you think it can keep serving our members and move the field forward in the upcoming years?

[00:06:10] Njideka Okubadejo: For me personally, I would count it a privilege if the MDS gave me the opportunity to continue to serve in whatever capacity, so be it in a committee setting and in other ways because that connection is really crucial to my career fulfillment. I think my major objective would be seeing growth in early career colleagues, mentoring others to grow in their career. So being part of MDS and being able to contribute to that is an opportunity that I look forward to in the future, but also look forward to, specifically for the Africa section, building expertise within the section for movement disorders, education, and research.

And just ensuring that more people are brought into that field to help us achieve that type of growth. The things that the MDS [00:07:00] does really excellently well, including advocacy and education and forging these networks and supporting people. The MDS, I would encourage to continue to do those things and to continue to expand the diversity within the MDS.

The MDS really makes a huge effort to ensure that people are included. That, for instance, the scientific program in the congresses is broadly themed enough to meet the needs of a wide spectrum of people who participate in these congresses. So beginners, people who are at a more advanced stage of their career, industry partners and so forth.

So I really encourage that the MDS continues to do that so that we maintain our relevance in the field going forward.

[00:07:46] Michele Matarazzo: Perfect. Now let me end with the last question. What would you tell to someone, especially a young colleague who is interested in movement disorders. Why do you think he or she should join the MDS?

[00:07:59] Njideka Okubadejo: The [00:08:00] first thing I would say to the person is that the most exciting aspect of neurology, subspecialty of neurology, is movement disorders without any doubt. I would also say to the person that the place where you can get the highest chance of succeeding in your career, if that's the path that you have chosen, is within the MDS, and so I would encourage the person to really join. But not just join as a member in name, but engage with all the opportunities that the MDS has.

[00:08:31] Michele Matarazzo: Well, thank you very much Njideka thank you for joining me and it has been a pleasure to have you.

[00:08:36] Njideka Okubadejo: Thank you, Michele. It's also been a pleasure meeting you and being interviewed by you. I really enjoyed this. Thank you.

[00:08:42] Michele Matarazzo: Thanks. We have had Njideka Okubadejo, professor of neurology at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and Chair of the African section of the MDS. Thank you all for listening. [00:09:00] 

Special thank you to:

Njideka Okubadejo
Professor of neurology
College of Medicine at University of Lagos in Nigeria

Michele Matarazzo, MD 

Neurologist and clinical researcher HM CINAC

Madrid, Spain

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