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Recap from the 16th UK Neuromuscular Translational Research conference 2023

3 May 2023

We recently co-organised the 16th UK Neuromuscular Translational Research Conference in partnership with colleagues based at the UCL International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases (ICGNMD). As it was the first face-to-face Translational Research Conference since 2019, we welcomed the opportunity to connect with clinicians and scientists from around the world and hear about their latest research.

The conference took place in London on the 29 and 30 March 2023 and was officially opened by Professor Michael Hanna (UCL Institute of Neurology), Chair of MDUK’s Board of Trustees. The event was attended by 220 clinicians and scientists from the field of neuromuscular research, and it showcased recent developments in scientific and clinical research into neuromuscular conditions. The event aimed to promote and increase scientific collaborations and ideas.

Bringing researchers together

The conference followed a meeting of the researchers who are part of the ICGNMD, which brings together clinicians and scientists from across the globe with the shared goal of improving diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in neuromuscular conditions worldwide. This meant we were joined by scientists and clinicians from Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, India, The Zambia, The Netherlands and the UK.

There were over 30 interesting and informative talks from early-career and senior researchers. Our representatives from MDUK’s research team had the pleasure of catching up with several of the speakers, some of whom we are currently supporting as part of our research portfolio, including Professors Jordi Diaz-Manera (University of Newcastle) and Antonella Spinazzola (University College London). Professor Diaz-Manera discussed his research that seeks to understand the correlation between genetic changes and symptoms in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Professor Antonella Spinazzola talked about her work on potential new treatments for mitochondrial diseases.

Dr Judith Cossins, from the University of Oxford, spoke about the potential new gene therapy for congenital myasthenia she is working on with Dr Yin Dong and Professor David Beeson. Dr Dong was awarded funding from MDUK in 2022 to build on this research.

Comments from MDUK representatives at the meeting

MDUK’s Research Communications Officer, Dr Andrea Gubas, and Director of Research and Innovation, Dr Kate Adcock both attended the conference. Kate gave a brief update on the work of MDUK and enjoyed spending time with researchers from around the world. Kate explains,  

“Over the last three years, I have been talking to many members of our research community on video calls. It was so great to connect with so many of them and meet new people face-to-face again after such a long break. The buzz at the meeting was fabulous and despite all our best efforts, it is hard to capture on Zoom!”

As it was Andrea’s first Translational Research Conference, she adds, “It was exciting to meet all of these fantastic researchers face-to-face and witness the exchange of such high-quality science and research into neuromuscular conditions.”

Fantastic poster presentations

Along with the captivating talks, around 100 posters were presented, showcasing the exciting work of researchers across the world. Several of the best posters were selected for short or ‘flash’ presentations.

The patient registry team at the John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Centre at Newcastle University presented the features of these registries and the benefits for people with neuromuscular conditions who joined them. For more information about patient registries, please click here.

Congratulations to the MDUK poster prize winner

Finally, we would like to congratulate Professor Izelle Smuts from the University of Pretoria, South Africa (part of the ICGBND network), on winning MDUK’s prize for the best poster. Professor Izelle Smuts showcased her fascinating work exploring genetics and symptomatic profiles of King Denborough Syndrome in children with congenital myopathy.

We would also like to thank our sponsors for making this event possible.

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