UAE medical students set sights on becoming the next generation of world leading surgeons at a symposium hosted by King’s College Hospital London and Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences

  • Three-day symposium marks the inaugural event in a series of ongoing seminars and workshops – part of a two-year education collaboration between King’s College Hospital London (King’s) in the UAE and Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU)
  • Workshops saw seven top surgeons from the London Neuroscience Academy discuss the latest global treatments for migraines, hydrocephalus, epilepsy, brain tumours and more

Clinicians and students from the UAE came together today in the name of Neurology and Neurosurgery to learn about the latest advancements at the International Symposium of Neurology and Neurosurgery, taking place from today until 28th February in Dubai. The symposium is being delivered by seven world leading neurologists and neurosurgeons from the London Neuroscience Academy, as part of a two-year partnership between King’s and MBRU, which seeks to inspire and upskill local talent in the rapidly evolving field of neurology and neurosurgery.

Commenting on the inaugural event, Neil Buckley, CEO at King’s in the UAE, said: “This symposium brings to the UAE the latest international advancements, ground-breaking procedures and research, via our experts, who are all world leaders in neurology and neurosurgery and practicing themselves. They practice at King’s in London and will soon be practicing in the UAE as part of our visiting doctors’ programme for UAE-based patients. Many of the advancements being discussed today and over the next few days, are unavailable or rarely applied in the UAE at present, and we hope to change this by upskilling our local staff and other practicing clinicians from the UAE and wider region, as well as inspiring the next generation.”

Over the next three days, students and clinicians alike will gain valuable insight and knowledge about the latest global advancements in neurology and neurosurgery, including the treatment of brain tumours, migraines and headache therapy, and hydrocephalus. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in over 30 CME accredited sessions.

Buckley added: “Given the population is projected to reach 10.5 million in 2030[1], with only 280 neurologists currently registered with the DHA in Dubai, there is a demonstrated need to increase the number of experts in this field to cater to the UAE’s ageing and increasing population. What better way to do this than inspire and train budding UAE medical students to close this gap, and become the next generation of ‘home-grown’ world leading neurologists and neurosurgeons?” added Buckley.

Dr. Amer Sharif, Vice Chancellor of MBRU, added, “We are very excited about this partnership with King’s. It’s a promising sign to see just how engaged and immersed our students have been in today’s sessions. Through our ongoing commitment to developing healthcare professionals for the UAE, part of which comes from hosting a symposium like this, there is no doubt in my mind that we are fostering the next generation of world leading surgeons right here in the UAE.”

Ameneh Baghestani, a second-year medical student at MBRU’s College of Medicine said, “Today’s sessions have been eye-opening, and to be part of discussions about the future of neurosurgery globally and, here in the UAE, is very inspiring. We heard first-hand what it takes to be a world leading surgeon – something I aspire to be one day. The surgeons from King’s also shared insights about their day-to-day work and the impact it has on their patients’ lives. I hope to be able to share similar experiences as a leading local neurosurgeon one day. Although I’m still a second-year medical student, I’m glad to be part of the discussion, MBRU always brings us symposiums, workshops, and conferences where we meet world-renowned doctors, learn about the latest technologies, and really benefit from meeting healthcare professionals from all around the world.”

Ground breaking brain tumour vaccine

Amongst other ground-breaking developments in the field of brain tumours, the symposium will touch on a new, innovative brain tumour vaccination, which is currently in clinical trials. After successful removal of a brain tumour, the patient’s own white blood cells can recognise and attack the brain tumour if it regrows, through an individualised vaccine produced from the same brain tumour[2].

Revolutionary migraine and headache therapy

The symposium will also serve as a platform to introduce a highly effective new therapy for the treatment of migraines. Occipital Nerve Stimulation therapy consists of using electrical stimuli to improve the abnormal function of the occipital nerve. The therapy, which will be taught and made available for the first time in the UAE through King’s visiting doctors programme, is non-invasive and a more comfortable treatment option for patients. Other treatment options involve lengthy drug treatments, or invasive surgical procedures, which change the structure or remove parts of the nerve tissue.

With a global prevalence of 14.7%, it is estimated that one in seven people have migraines
[3]. Research also shows that 3,000 of every one million people in the general population experience daily migraine episodes[4], which suggests that around 27,000 people in the UAE may be experiencing a migraine attack daily. Because migraines are common, recurrent and known to be disabling (the seventh most disabling disease amongst all diseases), over use of medication to treat it is common globally[5][6]. In the UAE, excessive use of over the counter analgesics (also known as pain killers) is widespread and potentially harmful, but could be reduced by making Occipital Nerve Stimulation therapy widely available.

Hydrocephalus in new-borns

Another topic of discussion at the symposium is a pioneering technique with an endoscopic third ventriculostomy to effectively and less invasively treat infants with hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a rare condition where babies have an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain at birth, which causes abnormal widening of spaces in the brain that result in harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain[7]. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Whilst there are no concrete local figures available, the global prevalence is one in 1000 children[8], which suggests that over 100 infants were born with it in the UAE in 2017. In the UAE, most hydrocephalus cases are treated via shunt surgery, which entails a thin tube (called a shunt) implanted in the brain to drain the excess CSF from the brain to another part of the body where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. However, this new technique does not require having a tube inserted in the brain, making it far less invasive and traumatic for the baby as well as the family.