AEA was honored to co-host two educational events in June, featuring one of the world’s foremost experts on autoimmune encephalitis, Dr. Sean Pittock. The events, including a dinner presentation and Grand Rounds, where held on June 12 and 13, in Los Angeles, California, and were co-sponsored by AEA, the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, and Good Samaritan Hospital. They drew a turnout of over 140 physicians, medical professionals, medical students, patients, and caregivers from the greater Los Angeles area.
Our featured speaker, Dr. Pittock, has been recognized for his leadership in clinical and laboratory research, as well as his contributions to the literature in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Pittock is currently the Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology and Mayo’s Neuroimmunology Research Laboratory. His expertise is in translational research, facilitating the study of novel biomarkers of autoimmune neurological disease, developing clinical applications for treating patients based on the results of laboratory testing, and recommending methods for clinical management of AE and other autoimmune-mediated diseases.
During the evening session Dr. Pittock addressed the audience on, “The Many Faces of Autoimmune Encephalitis.” He gave a brief history of the disease, the latest research in diagnosis (esp. with regard to blood and CSF testing, and MRI and PET scans), and the outlook for physicians engaging the disease in the future. Following Dr. Pittock’s remarks, Robert Given of Ashland, Oregon, provided a patient’s perspective. Mr. Given shared his personal experience with AE diagnosis and recovery. Mr. Given has been diagnosed with the CASPR2 antibody and spoke about the loneliness, frustration, memory loss, seizures, and overall difficulties of learning to receive help when he himself has spent a lifetime of being “the giver.” His engrossing talk elicited numerous questions, especially among the medical students in the room eager to learn more about how to interact with AE patients. John Spencer, Executive Director of AEA, also spoke Monday evening on AE awareness within the medical community and among the general public. He highlighted the role that AEA is playing to help bridge the resource gap for both groups.
The following morning, Dr. Pittock presented at Grand Rounds at USC, to a standing-room-only crowd of doctors and other medical professionals, on “Autoimmune Encephalopathy-Neuronal and Glial Biomarkers in Diagnosis and Treatment.” Here he delved deeply into the research he and his lab are conducting around AE, NMO, MS, and advances in neuroimmunology. His excitement for his work especially came to the fore when he encouraged the medical students in the room to consider a career in the field.
AEA extends a sincere thank you to Robert and Suzi Given, whose generous gifts of time and money made these events possible, and Dr. Sean Pittock for sharing his insights and expertise. We also thank all who helped make these events a success, including Nerses Sanossian, MD, May Kim-Tenser, MD, and Lilyana Amezcua, MD, of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. And a special thanks to Lisa McDonald Reyes, USC, for adroitly planning, managing, marketing, and running the events.
AEA sponsors continuing education events to disseminate information in the rapidly evolving field of AE diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, and to assist physicians who may encounter these patients in a wide range of specialties including neurology, rheumatology, internal medicine, emergency departments, pediatricians, psychiatry, and allied health roles. If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, please let us know.