Epigraph Vol. 12 Issue 3, Summer 2010

Epilepsy and Neurology Develop Stronger Ties at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Neurology

Sunao Kaneko
Sunao Kaneko, President, Japan Epilepsy Society and Member, Commission of Asian and Oceanian Affairs

The 51st Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Neurology (JNS) (chaired by Professor Syoji Tsuji) with the theme “Breakthrough to the Next Stage” was held from 19 - 22 May 2010 at the Tokyo International Forum. This Society can be traced back to the Japanese Neurology Society which was inaugurated in 1902 (later renamed Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology). In 1960, the neurology discipline independently established a society named the Japanese Society of Neurology, and epilepsy, a condition that was treated more commonly by psychiatrists at the time, did not have a significant role in the new JNS. Epilepsy remained for the most part outside of mainstream Japanese neurology for a number of decades, but more recently the JNS has placed greater emphasis on the neurological nature of epilepsy and has developed a closer working relationship with the Japan Epilepsy Society (JES). This developing relationship between the two societies resulted in the inclusion of epilepsy as a significant part of the program at the JNS Annual Meeting for the first time in anyone’s memory.  

As part of the opening ceremony on 19 May, Professor Emeritus Tatsuya Tanaka, First Vice President of International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), delivered a congratulatory message concerning the new collaboration from ILAE President Nico Moshé. Guests representing other related international societies: Professor Emeritus Hiroshi Shibasaki (President, International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology), Dr Chuanzhen Lu (Former President, Chinese Neurological Society) and Professor Juhan Kim (President, Korean Neurological Association) also extended their congratulations. Professor Byung-In Lee, who is Chairman of the Commission of Asian Oceanian Affairs (CAOA), also participated as a representative of the Korean Neurological Society and Korean Epilepsy Society.

On 22 May, the first Joint Symposium of the Japan Epilepsy Society and Japanese Society of Neurology was held. The theme of the Symposium was “Frontlines of the Epilepsy Treatment for Practicing Neurologists”. Professor Tatsuya Tanaka and Professor Sadatoshi Tsuji served as Chairmen. Several significant papers were presented to an audience of more than 300. They included: “Why Don’t Medicines for Epilepsy Always Work?” by Professor Edward Bertram (University of Virginia, USA); “Selection of Proper Antiepileptic Drugs” by Professor Sunao Kaneko (Hirosaki University, Japan); “Clinical Characteristics and Treatment for New Onset Epilepsy in the Elderly” by Dr Naoki Akamatsu (University of Occupational and Environmental Health School of Medicine, Japan); and “Is the Genetic Diagnosis of Epilepsy Useful in Clinical Practice?” by Professor Shinichi Hirose (Fukuoka University, Japan).

The inclusion of epilepsy in the Annual Meeting of the JNS comes from the recognition that among the neurological diseases, epilepsy particularly requires long-term treatment, and such problems as the transition of care from infant-onset epilepsy to adulthood must be overcome. In addition, onset of epilepsy in the elderly has shown a marked increase in Japan, which has the longest life expectancy in the world. To address these problems, close collaboration between the JNS and the JES is particularly important. This Annual Meeting was especially noteworthy because of the milestone that it signifies a future strengthening collaboration between the two Societies. One example is the epilepsy guideline that was created jointly by the Japanese Society of Neurology, Japan Epilepsy Society, Japanese Society of Child Neurology, and Japanese Society of Neurological Therapeutics, under the strong leadership of Professor Emeritus Shigeki Kuzuhara, the Past President of the Japanese Society of Neurology, which is scheduled to be published in the autumn of 2010.

ILAE Leadership in Japan
ILAE Leadership celebrate the developing relationship between epilepsy and neurology in Japan. From left: Bernhard Steinhoff (Chair, Therapeutics), Edward Bertram (Information Officer), Byung-In Lee (Chair, Asian and Oceanian Affairs), Tatsuya Tanaka (VP ILAE), Sunao Kaneko (Pres, JES, member ILAE)