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Lord John Walton Lecture
Lord John Walton Lecture

The ABN Autumn Lecture is given annually by a speaker invited in recognition of their major contribution to British/International Neurology

It is a great pleasure to introduce our speaker for this, the second John Walton lecture. Lord Walton was known not only for his acumen as a neurologist but also for his charity and humanity. Qualities that he shares with our speaker this evening, Simon Shorvon. They share many other qualities, their rigour, their attention to detail and their love of cricket and classical music. They also both experienced their fair share of pain: Lord Walton as a Newcastle United supporter, and Simon Shorvon as a Fulham supporter, it is surprising that someone who is so kind to his patients is so cruel to himself.

Simon spent his youth in London under the care of, not one but two, psychiatrists. His father, Joe Shorvon joined the staff of the National Hospital in 1947 until his premature death in 1961, and his mother worked at the South London Hospital for Women and Children, and Holloway Prison. In a way, it was natural that Simon should go from City of London School into medicine, studying at Trinity College Cambridge and then St Thomas’s Hospital.

After this, Simon was the only applicant for one of the busiest house jobs, a house job in neurosurgery at Manchester Royal Infirmary, where he quickly decided to embark on a career in neurology. Simon’s epilepsy career began later under the tutelage of Ted Reynolds at Kings College London. There, Simon published his first paper on epilepsy in the BMJ in 1977, entitled “Unnecessary polypharmacy for epilepsy”. This and his subsequent work at Kings College London still play an influential role in the principles underlying our current treatment of epilepsy.

Simon moved to the National Hospital in 1979 and was appointed Senior Lecturer and Consultant in 1983. He set up the epilepsy research group, which grew from one member, himself, to now over 100. He has made critical contributions to research in epilepsy, with over 500 publications, in numerous areas, including epidemiology, genetics, MRI, and clinical pharmacology and his research has informed health care policy not only in the UK but also in resource poor countries. His monograph on status epilepticus and the international colloquium on status epilepticus that he started and organises have influenced and driven research in this topic around the world. He is one of the major international figures in epilepsy research and has received numerous prizes and awards including lifetime achievement awards in UK, Europe, USA and India.

But it is not only his research that sets him apart, but also his teaching. He has been the principal PhD supervisor of over 20 doctors who are now consultant neurologists with an interest in epilepsy, 6 of whom hold university chairs in UK, USA and Australia.

More recently Simon has turned his considerable skills to the history of medicine. He has written on the history of epilepsy, the history of the Royal College of Physicians and this year, he co-authored, with Alistair Compston, the definitive history of Queen Square.

However, Simon’s interests extend well beyond neurology and he very much spans CP Snow’s two cultures. Almost 50 years ago, Simon completed his Part II (BA) in Cambridge on history of art. Since then, he has written about the printing press founded by Lucien Pissarro, eldest son of Camille. We also discovered in 2000 on Radio 3 that his private passions include Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Sofia Gubaidulina; I am glad to say that there was some light relief with the twelve-tone music of Alban Berg and some free form jazz from John Coltrane.

It is a measure of the person that Simon was and is, almost certainly, dreading this citation; not because I would bring up any embarrassing moments (and there are a few) but because his modesty would not permit him to enjoy this well-deserved panegyric.

It is a great honour and gives me great pleasure to introduce Professor Simon Shorvon to give the ABN John Walton Lecture “British neurosurgery before the NHS; its skirmishes with neurology and eventual emancipation.”

Professor Matthew Walker

Dear Colleagues

It gives me great pleasure to introduce our speaker for this, the first John Walton Lecture. The ABN is extremely grateful to Lord Walton’s children, Ann, Chris and Judy for their kind endorsement of this annual lecture.

There is much that could be said about the much missed Lord Walton, and indeed about another knight of the realm Professor Sir Doug Turnbull, but time is short. So to quote a well-known phrase: “We will be brief”.

As Professor David Bates, wrote in his obituary for Lord Walton in the Journal of Neurological Sciences:

“John Nicholas Walton was born in Rowlands Gill, County Durham, on the 16th September 1922 and, as Lord Walton of Detchant, died on the 21st April 2016 at Belford, Northumberland. The distance between the two is about 50 miles. In that 50 mile journey, and those 93 years, John fulfilled a remarkable lifetime of achievement, travelled the world and achieved legendary status in the field of neurology.”

Three of Lord Walton’s passions in his lifetime journey were Newcastle, neuromuscular disease, and the ABN. So it is entirely fitting that the ABN and meetings committee selected Doug Turnbull to give this first lecture. Doug is a Newcastle graduate through and through; he was a trainee who worked for Lord Walton as a research registrar in the Newcastle General Hospital Muscular Dystrophy laboratories and is an outstanding clinical academic who benefitted from Lord Walton’s crucial and strong support for the passage of the Mitochondrial Donation Regulations in both houses of Parliament.

Professor David Burn

It is a great honour and privilege for me to give this citation for Gordon Plant whose achievements can be summarised, quite succinctly, as ‘an outstanding clinician, researcher and teacher”

Gordon went up to Downing College, Cambridge in 1971 as an Exhibitioner and left as a Scholar in 1974 with a First Class Honours degree in Physiology.

He started his neurology apprenticeship at Queen Square and was SHO to some of the giants of neurology in their day - Chris Earl, Roman Kocen and Roger Bannister.

He was subsequently a Wellcome Trust research associate at The Physiology Unit in Cambridge and was awarded his MD on “Visual function in optic neuritis" in 1987, thus starting out his career in Neuro-ophthalmology.

In 1991, after a year in San Francisco on a MRC Travel Fellowship where he studied ‘Visual motion perception in brain damaged patients’, Gordon was appointed Consultant Neurologist to 3 hospitals – The National, St Thomas’ and Moorfields Eye Hospital. In the latter appointment as Neurologist to Moorfields Eye Hospital, he was following in the august footsteps of Chris Earl and Ian MacDonald.

Apart from his reputation as an excellent clinician, his research output has been prodigious, having published over 300 papers, but the first two and one of the most recent on his CV have the best titles:

“Nasal field loss in kittens reared with convergent squint - nucleus neurophysiological and morphological studies on the lateral geniculate nucleus1” in the Journal of Physiology,

“Metronidazole in smelly tumours2” in the Lancet, and

“Transient Smartphone ‘blindness’” in the NEJM in 2016

However, if you look at his list of publications the topics covered range from Neuro-ophthalmology and MS, obviously, but also he was a first author in a Brain paper in 1990 on Familial amyloid angiopathy which was followed by numerous papers on the subject; Strachan’s syndrome with PK Thomas; with his long standing affiliations in Tanzania and the DR of Congo, there have been publications on Konzo (a tropical spastic paraparesis due to cassava). If you think he is taking his foot off the gas after the age of 60 years you would be wrong – in 2016, he had at least 10 publications.

Gordon also has a National and international reputation for his teaching skills – witness the audience numbers when he is chairing Gower’s and especially when he is chairing the Special Interest Group breakfast meetings in Neuro-ophthalmology at every ABN meeting with people virtually hanging from the rafters. He makes neuro-ophthalmology look so easy - which I suppose is the marque of a true Grand Master of his métier. As a consequence of this reputation, he has held numerous visiting professorships and given named lectures all over the world including Sweden, Thailand and Australia. Next year he will be Visiting Professor at the Universite Paris Cinq de Rene Descartes (previously known as the Sorbonne).

However, despite all these laudations (and I could go on about his close involvement as advisor to the DVLA and the fact that he has been Editor in Chief of the Journal of Neuro-ophthalmology since 2008) Gordon’s greatest achievement has been to introduce, develop and publicise Neuro-ophthalmology as a neurological sub-specialty to the current generation of Neurologists and Registrars both in the UK and internationally.

So, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Dr Gordon Plant to give the ABN Autumn Lecture entitled “The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness of John Keats”.

Dr Hadi Manji

1 Ikeda H, Plant G T, Tremain K (1977):
Nasal field loss in kittens reared with convergent squint - nucleus neurophysiological and morphological studies on the lateral geniculate nucleus. 
Journal of Physiology.

2Ashford R F U, Plant G T, et al (1980): 
Metronidazole in smelly tumours. The Lancet (i) 874 – 875.

3Ali Alim-Marvasti, Wei Bi, Omar A. Mahroo, John L. Barbur, Gordon T. Plant (2016):Transient Smartphone ‘blindness”, NEJM.

Peter Sandercock graduated from Oxford in 1975 and then headed up the M6 where his interest in neurology was kindled during an attachment with Ed Hutchinson and Jim Heron in Stoke. He then continued northwards completing his neurology training in Manchester and Liverpool.

However, it was his return to Oxford in 1981 that laid the foundations of his future academic career. Under Charles Warlow’s supervision, Peter set up the Oxfordshire Community Stroke Project, the first proper epidemiological study of stroke in the UK and the first in the world to utilise CT scanning. Large clinical trials in vascular disease were also coming of age and based next door to the OCSP in the Radcliffe Infirmary were the UK TIA Aspirin and European Carotid Surgery Trials, whilst just round the corner were Richard Doll and Richard Peto. Then in 1987 Peter was the Visiting Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University where he acquired the skills required for the emerging specialty of evidence based medicine.

Peter moved to Edinburgh as Senior Lecturer in 1987, became Reader in 1992, and Professor of Medical Neurology in 1999. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2001. His list of publications, research grants, trainees, clinical trial committees, national and international appointments is prodigious by anyone’s standard, but I would highlight the following :

As the co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Collaboration Stroke Review Group from 1998-2011, Peter ensured that stroke medicine was at the forefront of evidence-based care, and as Chief Investigator of the International Stroke Trials, he put UK neurology at the centre of a huge collaboration which has transformed acute stroke treatment worldwide. No one has done more to banish the nihilism that previously over-shadowed the treatment of patients with acute stroke but also no one has done more to nurture an infrastructure, both human and physical, which will continue to produce research of the highest quality for years to come. In recognition of this, in 2010 Peter received the University of Edinburgh Chancellor’s Award for Research. Finally, as a member of the Board of Directors of the World Stroke Association since its inception in 2008, Peter has been one of the catalysts for improving the care of patients with stroke in developing countries for which he received the WSO Presidents Award for Services to Stroke in 2012. But perhaps more tellingly, the huge number of attendees who travelled from all over the world for his festschrift earlier this year was testament to the importance people attach to his friendship and advice.

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to invite Professor Peter Sandercock to give the ABN Autumn Lecture entitled “Stroke treatment: past, present and future”.

Dr John Bamford

Clare Fowler was educated at Wycombe Abbey school, and then qualified at the Middlesex Hospital in 1973.

Her neurological career began in earnest in 1976 as SHO at Queen Square to Chris Earle, Roman Kocen and Roger Bannister, and two years later she obtained her MSc in neurophysiology at UCL.

From 1981 she worked increasingly on clinical neurophysiology.

Her interest in Uro-Neurology had begun in collaboration with the urologist Roger Kirby, their first paper in 1983 in the British Journal of Urology being on non-obstructive detrusor failure, and she assisted with his thesis on MSA, the start of her ongoing keen interest in this disease.

In 1987 she was appointed as consultant neurophysiologist to the National Hospital, the Middlesex and Bart’s. She established the first Department of Uro-Neurology in the UK, and also in the world, at Queen Square. As a clinical neurophysiologist, she preferred this title to the alternative of Neuro-Urology. In 2001 Clare was appointed to a personal chair in Uro-Neurology at UCL Institute of Neurology

The impact and clinical importance of her work in this area cannot be overemphasised.

She trained 18 urological research fellows, 15 of whom were awarded higher degrees.

She has published three books, 83 book chapters, and 219 refereed articles. Her expertise and teaching have been widely sought, and she has given over 350 invited lectures in 33 countries.

She has studied and treated patients with diabetes, MS, HIV, Parkinson’s, MSA and PSP, among others.

Investigations that she developed and applied include bladder muscle biopsy and histochemical studies and external sphincter EMG. Together with UK and International colleagues such as Derek Griffiths and Chet de Groat in Pittsburgh, among others, with the use of fMRI and PET techniques, she has elucidated the currently accepted working model of neurological control of voiding and continence.

Most importantly, she has pioneered a succession of treatments that have improved the symptoms and quality of life of countless neurological patients with urogenital problems.

These include intravesical capsaicin and vanilloids, sildenafil, botulinum toxin injections, and electrical stimulation of sacral roots (“sacral neuromodulation”).

Clare has also achieved eponymous recognition for her description in 1985 of Fowler’s syndrome, a condition causing hitherto unexplained urinary retention in young women, often associated with polycystic ovaries and with a characteristic sphincter EMG pattern.

In 2010 Clare was the second Neurologist ever to be awarded the St Peter’s Medal by the British Association of Urological Surgeons. In 2010 she was made CBE for services to Uro-Neurology, and in 2013 received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Urodynamics.

She has served on the boards of six medical charities, particularly the MSA Trust which is close to her heart and of which she is now Chairman. She has been on the editorial boards of six journals and, among many other Trust positions, was Caldicott Guardian for UCLH for a decade and Deputy Medical Director for three years. Nationally and Internationally she has worked with numerous organisations as Chair, Secretary or Member of committees and advisory boards, including as Chair of the Clinical Autonomic Research Society, NICE member, and as Associate Member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, whom she has taught when not to operate on patients with PD or MSA!

Clare retired from full-time clinical work in 2010, and fully in 2012, leaving her department in the very capable hands of neurologist Janesh Panicker.

In addition to all these achievements, Clare has other strings to her bow, or should I say rotary valves to her brass. She plays the French Horn, drives a Porsche, keeps bees and rings church bells. She has Level 3 Diplomas in Horticulture from the RHS, and a “top student” award from Merrist Wood where she studied. She and her husband Peter have a lovely garden in Surrey that they open for the NGS in June. She is now writing a book on Pharmacopoiea Londinensis of 1618. Most recently, she has begun yet another career and is about to start training to become a Lay Reader in the Church of England.

As you can see, Clare has had a full and very productive career that has hugely enhanced the health and quality of life of others, and I am sure you will agree that she is perfectly qualified to give this year’s ABN Autumn Lecture.

Professor Niall Quinn

Lord John Walton
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