IoN celebrates achievements at Annual Address
1 October 2019
This year's annual address, held on 1st October 2019, began with a review of the year's successes presented by Professor Michael Hanna, Director of UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology.
Professor Hanna showcased wide-ranging examples of IoN's research impact, from the launch of a new high-dose aphasia service and research into microbleeds and anti-coagulation in stroke, to gene therapy in epilepsy, MS-STAT2 trial and MRI in MS prognosis, anti-sense studies at LWENC, work with Genomics England, and the 1946 cohort study in dementia.
He also demonstrated IoN's impressive research output: one paper every 5 hours on average, and five a month in the world’s very highest impact journals.
Highlights from the year included:
Quinquennial review of ARUK DDI, the new 7T scanner in 12 Queen Square, 50th anniversary of Reta Lila Weston Institute, Sigrid Rausing Trust funding, IoN departmental reorganisation, including new Movement Disorders Centre, QS Genetics Therapies Centre, and launch of the QS MND Centre and the recent planning approval of the new translational neuroscience building.
These achievements were complemented by many individual IoN researchers' awards and appointments, including an NIHR Professorship, new Fellows of the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences, and the appointment of UK DRI at UCL Associate Director, alongside 100% success in 2019 senior promotions,and Teaching Awards.
Mike then announced the annual Education prizes 2019.
- Miss Helene Marie (Nina) El-Bacha, MSc Clinical Neuroscience, Haymon Gorlov Prize
- Dr Sabhat Iqbal, MSc in Clinical Neurology, receiving the Hugo James Ross Prize 2019 from Professor Michael Hanna (left hand image below)
- Dr Karen Suetterlin, MRC Clinical Training Fellow, receiving the Queen Square Essay Prize 2019 from Professor Michael Hanna (right hand image below)
We were delighted that Dr C Frank Bennett delivered this year's annual address on antisense oligonucleotide-based therapy (ASO) in neurological diseases. Dr C Frank Bennett is Senior Vice President, Research & Neurology Franchise Leader, IONIS Pharmaceuticals Inc and is co-recipient of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize for Life Sciences and recipient of the 2019 Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize for Innovation in Science.
Dr Bennett began his address with an overview of the history of neurogenetic discovery in the 1990s, and the subsequent development of new drug discovery platforms. He covered the advantages of ASO, including direct translation of genomic information into drug development, and the efficiency of the drug discovery process. Seven of these have been approved for rare diseases, with around 40 in the pipeline. IONIS have been working on neurological diseases for the past 15 years, and he showcased examples of SMA, ALS, HD and Angelman Syndrome.
He concluded with a summary of the challenges of ASO, including the potential for covering a broader range of diseases, and more patient friendly drug delivery, finishing with acknowledgements and thanks to partners, including UCL Huntington's Disease Centre.
The event closed with a vote of thanks by Professor David Lomas, Vice Provost Health, UCL
Main image: Professor Lomas, Dr Bennett, Professor Hanna