Rowling Scholars' British neurology prize succes

Arpan Mehta and Patrick Kearns

May 2019: Dr Arpan Mehta and Dr Patrick Kearns were competition finalists at the Association of British Neurologists Annual Meeting. 

We’re delighted that Rowling Scholar, Dr Arpan Mehta, has won the Charles Symonds Prize for best poster presentation at the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) 2019 Annual Meeting.

Arpan was joined by fellow Rowling Scholar, Dr Patrick Kearns, as two of the five finalists in the national competition - a fabulous achievement with 278 posters being judged overall.

Posters are created by researchers to be displayed at conferences so fellow researchers from other organisations can learn about their ongoing work and research findings.  To win an award for a poster is recognition of excellence in your field.

At the ABN conference Arpan’s wining poster focused on motor neurone disease and was titled ‘Dysregulated axonal homeostasis in C9orf72 ALS motor neurones’. Patrick’s poster focused on multiple sclerosis and was titled ‘Some mainland localities have higher MS incidence rates than Orkney.’ This highlighted his analysis of the Scottish MS Register and preliminary findings suggesting that some small areas on the Scottish mainland have significantly higher incidence rates than those traditionally known for high diagnoses of MS such as Orkney.

For Arpan’s research, he uses state-of-the art human stem cell and gene editing technology to study motor neurones ‘in a dish’ that have been developed from cell donations by people with MND.  The C9orf72 repeat expansion is the commonest known gene mutation which causes MND.

About his research and poster presentation, Arpan said:

“I have found that there is a defect in the wiring of the motor neurones from people with this mutation. 

Astonishingly, although only a fraction of a millimetre thick, motor neurones can cover a distance well over a metre.  It is perhaps no surprise that the problem may lie within these microscopic wires.  I have found that the wires are shorter and that transport of tiny cellular components up and down these wires is impaired. 

My next steps are to try to better understand the reasons for these problems and, ultimately, try to remedy them.”

The ABN 2019 Annual Meeting was opened by Co-Director of the Anne Rowling Clinic, Professor Siddharthan Chandran, who inspired the audience with his positivity about the recent developments in neurology and his hope for the exciting strides forward that are to come.

Dr Arpan Mehta’s research is jointly funded by the MND Association and the Medical Research Council.

Dr Patrick Kearns’ research is funded by MS Auctions through the Anne Rowling Clinic.

Related links

Arpan Mehta’s profile

Patrick Kearns’ profile

Rowling Scholars

MS Auctions

Association of British Neurologists

This article was published on: Wednesday, May 29, 2019