RCSEd has sponsored the first meeting of the Edinburgh University Neurological Society
Held on 26 January 2013, the Edinburgh University Neurological Society (EUNS) inaugural meeting Neuroscience to Neurology, saw the presentation of original research from delegates and lectures from renowned neurosurgeons, Professor Sam Eljamel (University of Dundee) and Professor John Pickard from (University of Cambridge).
EUNS is a student-led organisation that provides an important interface between clinical and academic neuroscientists and neurosurgeons, and the neuroscientific and medical undergraduate communities of the University of Edinburgh.
The Society hosts fortnightly lectures and workshops designed to meet student demand for extra-curricular clinical and academic education in the fields of the basic neurosciences, neurology and neurosurgery.
EUNS identified a demand for undergraduate students to present their own research in the clinical neurosciences (typically arising from summer vacation projects, ‘student-selected components’ (SSCs) and final-year dissertations) to their peers. Therefore, the EUNS expanded to host its first conference and invited science and medical undergraduates to attend and present their research. This was not an endpoint in itself, but also provided a learning experience and a springboard, encouraging students to take their work further and collaborate across academic disciplines.
One hundred science and medical undergraduate students, representing 18 universities, attended the event. Students were provided with the opportunity to present their research in the form of poster presentations and, for exceptional abstracts, oral presentations in front of their peers and distinguished academics. Josh King-Robson, a medical student from Barts and the London, won the RCSEd-sponsored prize for the best poster presentation and Luke Sansom, a medical student from the University of Leeds, won the prize for the best oral presentation. Edinburgh University’s Veny Lukito won the ‘Neuroscience to Neurology’ prize for her poster presentation that was thought to have contributed the most to the conference theme.
The conference theme – Neuroscience to Neurology, better known as ‘bench-to-bedside’ or translational neuroscience – was selected to encompass and include work from multiple disciplines and to encourage presenting students to consider how their work contributes to this process. It was rewarding to witness delegates considering how their own research was relevant to their peers and vice versa.
In addition to student presentations, two distinguished professors of neurosurgery gave keynote addresses on the day. Professor Sam Eljamel, from the University of Dundee, spoke on the opportunities and challenges for translational neuroscience and Professor John Pickard, from the University of Cambridge, spoke on the subject of ‘floating brains’. Both speakers discussed how the theme of Neuroscience to Neurology impacts current and future neurosurgical practice.
In the afternoon, students had the opportunity to attend workshops of their choice. Representing Edinburgh, Professor Richard Knight and Mr Patrick Statham, a neurologist and neurosurgeon, respectively, led a workshop on successfully applying for training positions in their fields. Dr Edward Mellanby, an anaesthetic registrar with a special interest in the use of simulated environments in medical training, led an interactive workshop in neuro-trauma in which undergraduate delegates were offered the rare opportunity to learn how to manage an acute case of head trauma.
Overall, we hope that the conference offered delegates the opportunity to develop useful skills of presentation, collaboration and critical appraisal. As mentioned, the conference was somewhat controversial in that there was an integration of science and medical undergraduates attending and we hope that this will have provoked new perspectives and insights into our theme of Neuroscience to Neurology. Furthermore, feedback from the conference indicates that the event provided insight and skills to students considering future careers in neurology and neurosurgery.
Third-year medical student, University of Edinburgh
Fourth-year medical student, University of Edinburgh