UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Education at the Institute of Neurology

Between Pat Harris and the formation of the Education Unit - By Janet Townsend

janetand jean

I was appointed as Assistant Secretary for Students in the Students’ Office at the Institute of Neurology in May 1990. This was a year after Pat Harris retired;  for those of you who remember Pat she is now 85 years of age, keeping well and being cared for in a Residential Home in Barnet, North London.

My colleague Jean Reynolds was appointed in October 1990 and we worked together for 16 years until I retired in May 2006.  As many of you will know Jean continued to work in the re-named Education Unit and retired in December 2015 after 25 years of service at the Institute. 

The Institute of Neurology was in 1990 part of the British Postgraduate Medical Federation, a School of the University of London which also included the Institutes of Cancer Research, Child Health, the Eastman Dental School, Heart and Lung, Ophthalmology, and Psychiatry.  I remember monthly meetings at the BPMF headquarters just round the corner in Millman Street with the other Education Officers and arranging a number of joint activities including Presentation Ceremonies at the Lecture Theatre in the Institute of Child Health. 

The Diploma in Clinical Neurology was the main qualification awarded by the Institute in 1990 and over the years we sought to improve the teaching provision for the doctors who came from all over the world to study at Queen Square. There were also undergraduate elective placements, clinical attachments and an ever increasing number of MPhil, MD and PhD students as studentships from the Brain Research Trust, Wellcome Trust and the MRC gradually became available. We also administered the MSc examinations for the College of Speech and Language Therapists before it became part of UCL.

It is amazing to recall that at that time computers were relatively new and we struggled with MS Dos programmes backed up by my portable electric typewriter, which I still have at home. 

Professor David Landon was Dean when I was appointed with Dr John Scadding as Clinical Sub-Dean;  they were both incredibly supportive. I was also very fortunate in the support subsequently given by Professor David Marsden who also served as Dean of the Institute and the new title of Director was given to Professor Richard Frackowiak, who was succeeded by  Professor Roger Lemon. The wonderful Clinical Sub-Deans during my time at the Institute were Professor Andrew Lees, Professor Niall Quinn and Professor Simon Shorvon. 

The short course programme was introduced in the 1990s starting off with a week of one day courses held at the College of Speech and Languages in Wakefield Street.     The courses increased to two weeks in May of each year with a rotation of neurological topics held in the Wolfson Lecture Theatre at Queen Square.   Each year we welcomed back many doctors who enjoyed their annual visits to London for the useful update the courses provided. 

The MRCP weekend courses were also introduced during my time at Queen Square together with General Practitioner courses; I was surprised at one GP course when my own doctor attended. 

The Institutes of Neurology and Child Health together with the Eastman became part of University College London in 1996 and the BPMF was dissolved. The other Institutes joined Imperial and King’s Colleges.  

The MSc in Clinical Neuroscience was introduced in 1998/99 and Professor Lemon played a large part in the establishment of this qualification. Dr Caroline Selai became a course tutor and the cluster room was created. 

The Sandoz then Glaxo Lecture series sponsored by these pharmacetical companies took place every week in the Autumn and Spring terms on designated topics, with distinguished speakers from other Universities./Colleges as well as those from Queen Square.

The Queen Square Symposium was introduced in 1999 and both staff and research students were involved in the forward planning meetings.    

The celebrations in May 2016 for the 10th birthday of the Education Unit also marked 10 years since I retired.   It is amazing how the Unit continues to grow with the provision of many more qualifications and staff to support them. I very much enjoyed my time at Queen Square and the friends made among both staff and students.  I am fortunate in being able to continue the connection as Chair of the Ladies Samaritan Society, which raises funds to support patients and their families, and through some voluntary archiving work in the Institute Library.