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Neuropathology training and development subcommittee – promoting neuropathology globally

The ISN has started some promising activity in order to foster local development and support for neuropathology: “ISN Information Days” have been organized by the ISN Neuropathology Training and Development Subcommittee, in collaboration with local Institutions as annual events in Sofia, Bulgaria (September 2009), Istanbul, Turkey (November 2010), Surabaya, Java, Indonesia (September 2011), Hyderabad, India (December 2015 – as part of the inaugural meeting of the Neuropathological Society of India) and Lima, Peru (August 2016). A report on recent activity is available here.

The principle at the base of this plan is to inform the local laboratory-based and clinical neuroscience community about recent advances in the field of neuropathology that could be available to them in the areas of clinical service, research and teaching. It is hoped that through this process the local neuroscience community will realize that support for the development of neuropathology would result in a win-win-situation for all interested parties. The program has been designed to include contributions from the local neuroscientists in the following format: topics are introduced by local speakers giving some insight into their work, followed by a distinguished ISN speaker who presents the state-of-the-art neuropathology in areas such as tumours, neurodegeneration, infections and inflammation, epilepsy, cerebrovascular and neuromuscular disorders. The whole program may span from a full day (Sofia & Istanbul) to two days (Surabaya), where some more practical workshops were added. Programs are adapted to take into account local practices, e.g. a lesser role for autopsy (and neurodegenerative) neuropathology in Istanbul and Surabaya.

Our experience from the previous three meetings indicates that the ISN effort has been very well received by all attendees and, in some instances, has even resulted in remarkable positive effects (e.g. in the first collaborative publication in a peer-reviewed journal by a local neuroscience consortium). However, it has also become clear that every host country has unique problems and requirements that must be properly addressed in order to maximize the benefits of the venture, and justify the effort and financial commitment required. Therefore, the Subcommittee has realized that whereas a regionally balanced distribution of sites is pivotal for an organization like ISN, every country selected for the visit must undergo a detailed analysis of the local socio-economic and medical background in which neuropathology, including its service, teaching and research components, operates.

The experience of the past years has also made us realize that the essential goal of training local neuropathologists throughout the world can be advanced by measures such as dedicated training seminars/practical workshops, support of personnel exchange, encouraging the development of activities (such as clinico-pathological demonstrations) within individual institutions or between groups from different hospitals. With the distinct objectives of ISN Information Days, it is important to have the local means in place that really would allow for promotion of neuropathology. But let’s face it – our discipline is often perceived as costly in the medical setting everywhere, and we must first convince our partners in clinical neurosciences and pathology that it is cost-effective in the long run, even in difficult financial circumstances or in developing regions, where neurological disorders are rapidly becoming a major social and economic burden.

The ISN invites everybody to comment on this ISN initiative and to contact either of us if you might be interested in hosting such a future event.

Please contact Professor Kalaria (raj.kalaria@ncl.ac.uk) with any comments on this initiative, or if you would like to host an event.