Brian Neville var läkare, medicine doktor och professor emeritus i pediatrisk neurologi vid Institute of Child Health, London, Storbritannien. Sedan 2012 och fram till sin död verkade han som en utomordentligt inspirerande gästprofessor vid Gillbergcentrum.
År 1989 erhöll professor Neville den första professuren i pediatrisk neurologi i Storbritannien, och han utvecklade en enhet vid Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, till att bli den största kombinerade kliniska och akademiska avdelningen i Storbritannien, med samarbetspartners i både Afrika och Indien. Han var också en nyckelperson gällande utvecklingen av ett epilepsikirurgiprogram. Han utsågs till att bli den första ”Prince of Wales's Chair of Epilepsy” år 2004, med ambitionen att på ett genomgripande sätt utöka det akademiska samarbetet mellan University College London, Great Ormond Street Hospital och Young Epilepsy, som är en nationell välgörenhetsorganisation som stöder de 112 000 barn, ungdomar och unga vuxna under 25 år med epilepsi i Storbritannien. År 2007 avgick professor Neville från sitt uppdrag som ”Prince of Wales's Chair of Epilepsy” för att kunna fortsätta med sin forskning på heltid, och Professor Helen Cross, en av professor Brian Nevilles lärljungar, har efterträtt honom på den prestigefulla posten.
Nevilles forskningsintresse innefattade epilepsi med tidig debut och de mekanismer
som är involverade vid samsjuklighet i form av kognitiva svårigheter och beteendestörningar, och interventioner som kan förbättra dessa problem. Han var mycket drivande för att lyfta fram vilka konsekvenser epilepsi kan få gällande barnens skolgång, och han ägnade sig därför åt att undersöka omfattningen av problemen och vad eventuella interventioner skulle kunna ha för betydelse på samhällsnivå. Han bedrev epidemiologiska studier som involverade både status epilepticus och epilepsi i allmänhet i såväl Afrika som Storbritannien. Feberkramper har utgjort en stor del av hans forskning, inte minst de sista levnadsåren i samarbete med göteborgskollegorna.
År 2009 invigdes ”The Neville Childhood Epilepsy centre”, uppkallat efter professor Brian Neville. Utvecklingen av National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy, som är beläget i Lingfield, Surrey, har varit mycket betydelsefull då centret är det första i sitt slag som har specialiserat sig på barnepilepsi i Storbritannien. Vid centret ägnar man sig åt utredning, behandling och forskning och verksamheten är utformad för att utgöra en internationell resurs för pediatrisk epilepsi.
2011 invigdes Gillbergcentrum vid Göteborgs universitet officiellt av HM Drottning Silvia. Professor Neville höll i anslutning till invigningen den första Drottning Silvia-föreläsningen med titeln ”Febrile seizures – a neurodevelopmental disorder?” i Wallenbergsalen i Göteborg.
Professor Neville har författat över 250 peer-reviewed artiklar och flera bokkapitel.
Hans besök på Gillbergcentrum i Göteborg var alltid mycket uppskattade då han bidrog med sin imponerande kunskap och sitt genuina engagemang för sina egna och andras patienter och för forskningen inom ESSENCE. Brian Nevilles bortgång är en stor förlust för alla hans vänner och kollegor vid Gillbergcentrum (både i Sverige och utomlands).
Professor Brian George Richard Neville 1939-2016
As the first Chair of Paediatric Neurology in the UK, and subsequently the first Chair of Childhood Epilepsy Brian Neville made a significant contribution to the understanding and care of neurological disease in childhood around the world.
Brian qualified in medicine from Guys Hospital Medical School, and trained in neurology at Great Ormond Street as well as the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH. He was initially consultant in pediatric neurology at Guys Hospital where he was Director of the Newcomen Centre, developing a firm interest in cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He long realized that research was key to moving forward in clinical practice, recognizing that the main questions that needed to be addressed arose from the patients themselves. His initial collaborations were with Kings College Hospital, However, in 1989 Brian was appointed to the first UK Chair of Paediatric Neurology at University College London, Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital. His vision was a unit that encompassed all aspects of paediatric neurology, from acute to chronic illness, with research embedded in clinical practice. He developed both the clinical and academic units to one of the largest in Europe. He specifically developed neurodisability services, firmly believing in the model of multidisciplinary team working. He additionally had witnessed what could be achieved through epilepsy surgery through his collaboration with Kings, but felt children required a specific type of service utilizing newly available MRI for a predominantly noninvasive programme, and also recognizing the service had to be embedded in a complex epilepsy evaluation programme. The programme he started at Great Ormond Street Hospital is now one of the largest clinical units in the world. Recognising that children required continuation of services into adulthood, he also established links with the epilepsy programme at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH, and created one of the first transition clinics for teenagers with complex epilepsy.
Brian long recognized the potential of an institution such as St Piers, Lingfield, a school for children with epilepsy when his involvement started in the 1980’s, realizing the potential of partnership with the NHS, and the possible reach of such expertise if made available. Over the years he was key to the development of the organization, initially as a charity, and subsequently as a medical and research resource. He campaigned and led fund raising for the creation of a chair in childhood epilepsy, establishing links with the Prince of Wales who gave his name to the chair, and a position for which he was the first incumbent 2004-2007. He also was a major driver for the creation of the medical and research centre that now bears his name.
Brian’s work was at the heart of many issues where the secondary effects of the epilepsies can affect a young person. The fundamental basis to his vision for the chair was the underlying mechanisms and secondary effects of the epilepsies and how intervention could improve outcomes. He also valued the relative contribution of different organisations in the research effort. It was at Young Epilepsy (then St Piers) he led the pioneering work into the use of buccal midazolam as rescue medication for prolonged seizures, now integrated into NICE guidelines. He led further work into the understanding of the effects of infantile spasms, optimizing intervention in Landau Kleffner syndrome, the epidemiology of status epilepticus, and the rate of neurocognitive and neurobehavioural abnormalities in children with epilepsy in schools. He also led on establishing a European network for the study of Alternating Hemiplegia that now continues as a wider international effort. During his career he published 3 books, 45 chapters and more than 270 peer reviewed publications. He created links across the community, UCL GOS – Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Young Epilepsy and ultimately the UCLH Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery which would allow evaluation and intervention across a patient’s entire age range. He also valued the role of the parent organisations and undertook an enormous amount of work over the years with Contact a Family. He acted as medical advisor to several condition specific support groups, including as Executive Secretary of the Medical Education and Information Unit of the Spastics Society 1978-1992 (now Scope).
Brian long recognized the need to encourage and train junior colleagues so the specialty could grow. As coordinator of postgraduate training for North London, UK and Europe, he was able to develop a training programme which allowed appropriate trainees (more than half at GOSH) to enrol for PhD’s and develop into the present generation of clinical academics. He wrote the training programmes for Paediatric Neurology for Europe and the UK with the integration of neurodisability and child psychiatry, and established a European Syllabus for paediatric neurology. In all he supervised 15 higher degree (PhD or MD) students and many more visiting fellows from around the world. Brian was an outstanding mentor who always found the balance between getting the research project done and allowing his mentee to develop their own ideas and direction. This had the wonderful effect of giving breadth to both the research programmes and clinical practice. He also pursued collaborative work with colleagues in countries with limited resources. Notably links were established and longstanding with Kilifi, Kenya; Dhaka, Bangladesh and Chandigargh, India, enabling those countries to develop their own excellent paediatric neurology systems.
Brian was instrumental in the establishment of the British Paediatric Neurology Association serving on the council both as Secretary (1980-1983) and President (1986-1989) and Chair of the Training Subcommittee 1993-1999.Brian was one of the founding members of the European Paediatric Neurology Society and was subsequently elected to the board. He founded the European Academy of Childhood Disability, chairman for 12 years and also the European Society for movement analysis in children, chairman for 10 years. He was on the editorial board of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology for 15 years (1977-1992) and negotiated its becoming the Journal of the BPNA. On retirement Brian was made an honorary member of the European Paediatric Neurology Society, awarded a Lifetime Achievement award from the ILAE UK chapter and an honorary doctorate from University of Gothenburg.
Brian’s legacy is colossal and his work will continue to shape the field of neurology for generations to come. His legacy remains in the many paediatric neurologists, paediatricians, therapists, children and families around the world who will be eternally grateful for his insights. At the heart of all he did, he was an extremely caring man who always put the child and family at the centre of all activity. We, Young Epilepsy, are immensely proud to have counted him as one of our own and he will be greatly missed.