Dr Richard Chin rewarded for paediatric epilepsy research
31 March 2009
Dr. Richard Chin, a clinical lecturer at UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) and Great Ormond Street NHS Trust, has won the Sparks charity’s annual Young Investigator of the Year award for his work into childhood onset epilepsy.
Dr Chin’s research demonstrates that children who suffer prolonged epileptic fits can be given widely varying treatments both on the way to hospital and when they arrive at A&E departments. According to Dr Chin’s study, the children are often not given the most effective treatments when they go through a potentially terrifying experience for the parents or carer.
As part of his doctoral work, Dr. Chin established a large collaborative childhood epilepsy network to study children who have convulsive status epilepticus (CSE), the most common neurological emergency in children. The condition arises when children experience two or more convulsions or fits without regaining consciousness in between, or when they suffer a single prolonged seizure lasting more than 30 minutes.
Dr. Chin found that the condition is more common in children than in adults, but less likely to prove fatal than previously believed. More than half the children in his study were under 5 years old and half of children had no history of previous neurological problems.
The study provides evidence for the most effective treatments and most effective means of delivering treatments, including the importance of pre-hospital treatment. Researchers are currently in consultation with the ambulance service and primary care about how to improve pre-hospital treatment. These findings will help develop best practice protocols and training that will hopefully lead to quicker and more effective care of children with CSE.
Dr Chin will be presented with the award at the annual conference of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in York on 31 March. The charity fundraises for research on medical conditions affecting babies and children.
Dr. Rod Scott (UCL ICH), Reader in Paediatric Neurosciences who supervised Dr. Chin’s doctoral thesis, and Professor Carol Dezateux (UCL ICH), director of the MRC Centre of Epidemiology, both praised his groundbreaking research.
Dr. Scott said: “CSE is a terrifying event for families and may result in brain injury that can lead to further epileptic seizures, difficulties with learning and challenging behaviour. Appropriate early therapy could minimise the effect of CSE. Richard's research is extremely important as it has highlighted the frequency and early outcomes from CSE as well as providing guidance on the most appropriate therapy. These studies form the platform from which Richard can launch what is likely to be a very successful career as a clinical scientist.”
Professor Dezateux added: “Childhood onset epilepsy is an important condition for affected children and their parents. High quality research is needed to establish the spectrum of causes and outcomes of this condition and to inform strategies for its prevention and treatment. Richard's research constitutes a significant step forward in meeting that challenge. It has also marked him out as a talented clinician scientist of considerable promise.”
Image: Dr Richard Chin
The UCL Institute of Child Health is, in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital, the largest centre outside the US devoted to clinical and basic research and postgraduate teaching in children’s health. It pursues an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to enhance the understanding, diagnosis, therapy and prevention of childhood disease. It covers a broad range of paediatric issues, from molecular genetics to population health sciences.