The inspirational story of a mother's 12-year journey to unlock the mysteries of her daughter's epilepsy.
To mark International Epilepsy Day today (February 8th), Dr Tracy Dixon-Salazar is in Dublin to speak at a public event being hosted by Epilepsy Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) on the latest developments in epilepsy research.
Dr Dixon-Salazar has a unique and inspirational personal story. When her daughter Savannah was diagnosed with a rare but severe form of epilepsy, she began a 12-year journey from stay-at-home mum to Ph.D. neuroscientist and epilepsy genetics researcher.
She has since been responsible for the discovery of a number of genes underlying this common neurological condition. Today, inspired by Savannah and motivated to help others like her, Dr Dixon-Salazar heads the Epilepsy Genetics Initiative (EGI), a major American research project run by the CURE organisation (www.cureepilepsy.org) that aims to revolutionise how epilepsy is treated by driving the development of genetic-based personalised medicine.
You can watch her story in this short video: https://youtu.be/iz6mZ1NhY4o.
Dr Dixon-Salazar will discuss her own personal journey and talk about the importance of early genetic testing in people with epilepsy so that causes can be identified and where possible, targeted interventions made. This, rather than the current practice of trial and error, she says, is the future of epilepsy treatment. Currently, a cause cannot be identified in 60-70% of people with epilepsy.
As an example of the potential of her work, Dr Dixon-Salazar, through sequencing her daughter's DNA and identifying specific genetic mutations, was able to identify an existing drug not used in epilepsy that in Savannah's case worked remarkably well in controlling her seizures. She believes that ongoing research efforts may be able to identify cures for certain types of epilepsy in the not too distant future. Her determination is bringing hope of a brighter future to millions of families around the world affected by epilepsy.
The HSE's Chief Information Officer, Richard Corbridge will also speak at the event about the Executive's plans to invest in epilepsy e-health in Ireland in 2016.
The event takes place in the Houston Theatre, RCSI, St Stephens Green Dublin, from 6.30pm. Due to huge demand, the event has been fully booked for some time.
Videos of Tracy's talk and all the other talks this evening will be available shortly.
You can also hear Tracy on the Moncrieff Show on Newstalk today, MOnday between 1.30 and 4.30 pm.