Encephalitis 2020 Overview

8th December 2020, Royal College of Physicians, London, UK and virtual

The 2020 Encephalitis Conference successfully took place during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.  Despite these challenging circumstances the conference was delivered with a few key personnel present in-person and outside of this digitally to 257 delegates from 34 countries, welcoming researchers and healthcare professionals from around the world interested in a wide range of subjects related to encephalitis.

Our keynote speakers for the day were 

  • Dr Benedict Michael, Vice Chair of the Society’s Scientific Panel; Consultant Neurologist and Senior Clinician Scientist Fellow at the University of Liverpool, UK. Dr Michael presented how the SARS-Cov2 virus affected the brain, the evidence known to date and how it can be addressed. Dr Michael presented the Covid-Clinical Neuroscience Study that is currently investigating neurological complications, their mechanism, the role of biomarkers, and how to prevent long-term disabilities. Unresolved questions remain about the possible continuum of encephalitides across patients, including those that may have been unidentified.
  • Professor Tom Solomon, President of the Encephalitis Society and Professor of Neurology at the University of Liverpool, UK, with a presidential address entitled “Encephalitis Research in the Next 25 Years”. Prof Solomon highlighted the importance of surveillance in the identification of infectious and autoimmune encephalitis, but also in those with unknown aetiology. The need to anticipate new pandemics in Neuroscience, the importance of raising awareness of the excellent risk-benefit ratio of vaccines, the potential of neuroprotective treatments for elderly populations and the need to improve access to basic clinical protocols were discussed.
  • Professor Carsten Finke, from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and Charité University Hospital, Berlin. Prof. Finke focused on the information about the cognitive deficits in the years following anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Although many patients have a good neurological outcome using the modified Rankin scale, the discrepancy with persisting cognitive deficits was pointed out. One explanation for this is the impact of NMDA receptors in the hippocampus, a key region for memory processing. Potential functional neuroplastic improvement in younger patients was discussed.

These lectures were complemented by a further 12 presentations and 24 poster presentations.

Encephalitis Conference 2020

Click on the image to see more photos from Encephalitis 2020

The last session was chaired by Dr Ava Easton, CEO of the Encephalitis Society and Honorary Fellow, Dept. Clinical Infection, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Liverpool. Dr Easton interviewed Brian Deer, an investigative journalist known for his inquiries into the drug industry, medical and social issues for The Sunday Times. He provided a reading from his new book  “The doctor who fooled the world”, which explores disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield’s controversial war against MMR vaccines.  Deer exposed how clinical research was manipulated and conducted unethically, to the detriment of both the deceived public and the patients and their families, for the purpose of proving a link between the MMR vaccine and autism that in fact did not exist.

As the conference came to an end, awards were presented for the best oral presentation for Barriers and Facilitators in seeking care for Persons with Acute Brain Infections to Vasundharaa S Nair from the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Banglalore, India) and Best poster for Factors predicting patient quality of life after LGI1-antibody encephalitis to Dr Sophie N.M. Binks, from the Oxford Autoimmune Neurology Group, at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences of the University of Oxford, UK (with colleagues M. Veldsman, S. Jacob, P. Maddison, J. Coebergh, S. Michael, S. Ramanathan, Easton A., M. Scheller Nissen, M. Blaabjerg, Leite M Isabel, D. Okai, M. Husain, S.R Irani).

Full Conference Report

Full Conference Brochure

Book your reduced price place now at the Encephalitis 2021 (Royal College of Physicians, London and virtual, 7th December)