PSA: 5th International Scientific Symposium on Tourette Syndrome a Huge Success

image Front of the Class Poster

The national Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc. brought together 250 delegates and internationally renowned scientists, clinicians and other experts from 17 countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Spain, to share and discuss the latest research into and treatments for Tourette Syndrome. The Symposium was held in New York City on June 12 and 13, and focused on the advances made since the last Symposium which was held in 2004. Notable hot topics were deep brain stimulation (DBS); the development of animal models for the study of TS; and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy in reducing tics. However, fields as wide and diverse as genetics, neuroimaging, neuropathology, epidemiology and neuroimmunology were all covered during the course of the conference. Presenters conveyed their research findings through platform presentations, small group meetings/workshops and poster displays.
The Symposium was co-chaired by the TSA Scientific Advisory Board co-chairs, Peter J. Hollenbeck, Ph.D., Purdue University; Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center; and John T. Walkup, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The program was developed by a Steering Committee chaired by Kevin Black, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine.
Dr. Black commented on the success of the event and the high level of the material presented. "The quality of the presentations was superb. We heard breaking news on several fronts: a report from the CDC on the first nationwide survey of people diagnosed with TS, an update on the search for genes that cause TS, an fMRI study of how the TS brain's organization develops in adolescence, discussion of animals that have tic-like movements and may help us find new treatments, and compelling results on PANDAS with a very lively discussion of their implications. Much of the meeting was organized to shed light on the results of the recent NIH-funded multi-site controlled study of CBIT (Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions for Tics), presented for the first time at this Symposium. The study results were very compelling and I believe will help bring an important new treatment to the standard care of people with TS. It is not a cure, but it looks to be an important tool for helping manage and reduce symptoms."
The TSA's Early Career Research Award was presented to the TSA grant recipient Nicole Calakos, M.D., Ph.D for her work on synaptic and circuit level insights for TS and OCD using mouse models. Dr. Calakos was also among the 57 scientists who presented posters. Among these, six were scholarship awardees. The scholarships are part of TSA's commitment to encouraging young researchers to focus on pursuits related to TS.
Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive and they stressed how the symposium provided a unique opportunity to hear not only the latest information about TS advances in medicine and treatment, but also to meet other medical and scientific professionals from around the world to share information, ideas and experiences. Attendees are now anxiously awaiting the next TSA symposium and expressed a desire for it to be held sooner than the next meeting which is scheduled to take pace 5 years later in 2014.
On Sunday, June 14, the final day of the Symposium was a 'Family Day' when local TS families were invited to hear Dr. James Leckman of the Yale Child Study Center talk about the medical and scientific advances presented at the Symposium. Douglas Woods, Ph.D., also  spoke about CBIT and the results of the NIH-funded study.
For more information and photos from the symposium, check out the upcoming issue of Inside TSA which should arrive in your mailbox in mid-September. Don't receive the TSA quarterly newsletter? Click here to become a member and start receiving issues along with exclusive access to past issues on our website!