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Reflections on the European Congress on Epileptology

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    I travelled to Stockholm last weekend to attend the 11th European Congress on Epileptology (ECE). This was my fifth time to attend the event and, as ever, I really enjoyed it.

    It really is one of the top events for people like me who are passionate about epilepsy. The first time I went was in 2006 when the congress was held in Helsinki. I was struck by the excellent attendance and how strong the scientific content was.

    The event gets even better each time I attend. The dedication of the scientific committee in preparing the programme and evaluating the data submitted is excellent and, because the ECE is held every two years, there is always something fresh to learn at each congress.

    This scientific rigour and the opportunity to connect with leading specialists, clinicians, academics and patient groups is what makes it so valuable for us at UCB. Supporting medical education is fundamental and we really appreciate meetings of the standard of the ECE because everyone gets something out of it: you learn, you meet new people, and you leave with new ideas and inspiration.

    Highlights this year
    This year there was a strong emphasis on prevention, in the broadest sense of the word. There were presentations on preventing epileptogenesis, preventing potential epileptic events and also exploring what can be done for people who are already diagnosed with epilepsy.

    Other interesting sessions included the role of gene therapy, neuroinflammation and translational medicine – moving from basic research to the patient's bedside.

    UCB sponsored a symposium which examined how drug treatment choices influence patient outcomes.  Speakers looked at how better patient management with appropriate treatment can influence outcome.

    This patient-centric approach, focusing on real-world data and quality of life, is central to what we're all about. We also shared clinical data from our epilepsy medicines and some scientific research on a potential new therapy which our scientists are working to develop.

    Advocacy opportunities
    Another change I've seen since my first ECE – and it is particularly evident this year – is the advances in epilepsy advocacy. Patient associations are doing important work in raising awareness with the public and policymakers.

    The European Brain Council has designated 2014 as the 'Year of the Brain' and epilepsy advocates have had meetings with the European Commission and others to highlight the prevalence of the disease, its impact, and the importance of optimal management.
     
    Large meetings like the ECE are a chance to discuss every aspect of epilepsy and what each of us can do to improve the lives of those affected by the disease.

    It is always an enormously intensive few days, rising early and finishing late. There were so many people to talk with, sessions to attend and posters to see – but time flew and we left feeling a little tired yet suitably refreshed.
     
    This is what it means to be Inspired by Patients. Driven by Science.

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