What has the Exeter neurology course accomplished in the last decade?

The West of England Seminars in Advanced Neurology (WESAN) is a neurology course which holds annually in Exeter, the historic English city in the scenic county of Devon. It is a highly-regarded, even if a little bit unassuming, neurology meeting. Over the last decade I have attended several WESAN conferences, always going back to base buzzing with neurological enthusiasm, and brimming with fresh insights into knotty problems. I was therefore very pleased when, along with my colleague Joe Gormley, I was invited to join the long-running conveners of this distinguished course, Christopher Gardner-Thorpe and Nick Gutowski.  And I am talking about this now because the next WESAN is on the 24-25 November 2016.


What has WESAN achieved over the last ten years to earn the accolades I have poured all over it? Who are the neurology masters who have graced the WESAN podium over the years? Who are the unsung but bright stars who have cast their spell on generations of neurology consultants and trainees? Which subjects did WESAN tackle, and what topics did the speakers conjure up to regale and enthuse? And what will delegates be served this year?

By Dietmar Rabich - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
By Dietmar RabichOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

To find out, I collated all WESAN programmes since 2005, and I have reproduced them below. The range of topics addresses all the core neurology subspecialties, but keep an eye out for sprinkling of intriguing titles such as Quoi de neuf? Rien de neuf! by Alan Emery, The neuropathologist in court by Waney SquierMagic but treatable? by Oliver Hanemann, Gratiolet’s torque and the evolution of language by Tim CrowEffective whistle-blowing skills for neurologists by David Nicholl, and Therapeutic gardening by Richard Thompson.

Reunion of neurologists at the Salpêtrière hospital. Photograph, 1926 http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/03/de/5ebbbcfa56d021dda69b21761b96.jpgGallery: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/M0005197.html, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36322408
Reunion of neurologists at the Salpêtrière hospital, 1926. http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/03/de/5ebbbcfa56d021dda69b21761b96.jpgGallery: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/M0005197.html, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36322408

WESAN 2005

  • Jeremy Hobart (Plymouth) Who rates scales? How to sell yourself short
  • Vaughan Pearce (Exeter) On being a medical director
  • Waney Squier (Oxford) The neuropathologist in court
  • Jonathan Schott (London) Limbic encephalitis-the autoimmune connection
  • Chris Clough (London) The JCHMT
  • Alan Emery (Exeter) Quoi de neuf? Rien de neuf!
  • Stephen Brown (Bodmin) Epilepsy and psychiatry
  • Adam Zeman (Exeter) Syndromes of global amnesia
  • Roger Barker (Cambridge) Huntington’s disease
  • Peter Newman (Middlesborough) IVIG in neurology
  • Pam Shaw (Sheffield) Diseases of the motor neurone
  • Giles Elrington (London) Commercial neurology

WESAN 2006

  • Christopher Weatherley (Exeter) Understanding spinal surgery
  • Mike Boggild (Liverpool) Multiple sclerosis
  • Brendan Davis (Stoke-on-Trent) Headache
  • David Nicholl (Birmingham) Ethics for neurologists
  • Graham Hughes (London) Lupus
  • Peter Harper (Cardiff) Neurology and the beginnings of genetics
  • Adrian Wills (Nottingham) Ventilatory failure for the neurologist
  • David Hilton-Jones (Oxford) Muscles
  • John Winer (Birmingham) Peripheral nerves
  • Tim Lewis  (Bristol)Neuroradiology
  • Pam Crawford (York) Epilepsy-do the facts fit?
  • Geraint Fuller (Gloucester) Training

WESAN 2007

  • Brendan McLean (Truro) Epilepsy
  • Nick Kane (Bristol) Problems and pitfalls in clinical use of EEG
  • Mark Wiles (Cardiff) Education in neurology
  • Mark Edwards (Queen Square) Movement disorders
  • Michael Hutchinson (Dublin) Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy
  • Richard Thompson (Royal College of Physicians) Therapeutic Gardening
  • Vik Devaraj (Exeter) Peripheral nerve surgery for neurologists
  • Oliver Hanemann (Plymouth) Magic but treatable? Tumours due to the loss of merlin
  • Peter Nestor (Cambridge) Mild cognitive impairment-use and abuse of a new construct
  • Rustam Al-Shahi Salman (Edinburgh) Dilemmas in the management of cavernous malformations
  • Paul Davies (Northampton) Headache
  • Peter Bliss (Exeter) Neuro-oncology
Exeter High Street, GuildhallBy Franzfoto - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Exeter High Street, GuildhallBy FranzfotoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

WESAN 2008

  • Neil Scolding (Bristol) Stem cell therapy and MS
  • Robin Howard (Queen Square) Neuromuscular complications on the ITU
  • Russell Lane (Queen Square) Understanding headache
  • Andrew Larner (Liverpool) Practical cognitive neurology
  • Mark Manford (Cambridge) When is a fit not a fit?
  • Ian Barker (Medical Defence Union) Medicolegal matters
  • Hadi Manji (Queen Square) Tropical neurology in central London
  • Tim Crow (Oxford) Gratiolet’s torque and the evolution of language
  • Hardev Pall (Birmingham) Tremor – changes in classification and treatment
  • Malcolm Hilton (Exeter) BPPV: Five-minute miracle cure guaranteed
  • Charles Clarke (Queen Square) The neurology of high altitude, the problems of chronic hypoxia
  • Peter Whitfield (Plymouth) Question time with a neurosurgeon (in the hot seat)

WESAN 2009

  • Marguerite Hill (Swansea) Myasthenia
  • Simon Hammans (Southampton) Muscle disorders and their genetics
  • Graham Venables (Sheffield) Stroke
  • Kirstie Anderson (Newcastle) Sleep
  • Angus Kennedy (Charring Cross) Cognitive problems
  • Caroline Hahn (Edinburgh) Veterinary neurology
  • Susan Duncan (Edinburgh) Epilepsy
  • Peter Harvey (London)
  • Siobhan Leary (Queen Square) Multiple sclerosis
  • Karen Morrison (Birmingham) Motor neurone disease
  • Guy Sawle (Nottingham) Movement disorders
  • Nick Silver (Liverpool) Headache

WESAN 2010

  • Mark Roberts (Manchester) Muscle disorders
  • Peter Simcock (Exeter) Neuro-ophthalmology and optic nerve disorders
  • Bridget MacDonald (St George’s) Epilepsy-practical points in the ordinary neurology clinic
  • Mike Lunn (Queen Square) The diagnosis, pathogenesis and therapy of inflammatory peripheral neuropathies
  • Fady Joseph (Gwent) Behcet’s disease
  • Ian Gilmore (Liverpool) Alcohol-the good, the bad and the ugly
  • Richard White (Liverpool) Headache and stroke in clinical practice
  • Stanley Hawkins (Belfast) Multiple sclerosis
  • Mike Alexander (Dublin) Neurophysiology
  • Ralph Gregory (Poole)
    • When the Parkinson Disease honeymoon is over
  • Gerry Saldanha (London) On Education
  • Kathryn Peall (Cardiff) Myoclonus-dystonia syndromes and familial tremor


WESAN 2011

  • Lionel Ginsberg (Royal Free) Fabry Disease and peripheral neuropathies
  • Ray Murphy (Dublin) Interesting clinical cases
  • Lina Nashef (Kings) SUDEP-an update
  • Markus Reuber (Sheffield) Managing patients with non-epileptic attacks
  • Chris Turner (UCL) Which is the most important organ involved in myotonic dystrophy?
  • David Bates (Newcastle) The Future of treatments in multiple sclerosis
  • Alastair Compston (Cambridge) Brain: a journal of neurology, 133 years on
  • Ed Fathers (Taunton) How to give a talk
  • Paul Maddison (Nottingham) Paraneoplastic disorders and related antibodies
  • Mark Jackson (Exeter) 1922: stress and the origins of neuro-endocrinology
  • Richard Davenport (Edinburgh) The cervical spine
  • Sam Chong (Medway and Kings) Neuropathic pain-just amitriptyline deficiency?
  • Paul Worth (Norwich) Movement disorders

WESAN 2012

  • Luke Bennetto (Bristol) Intracranial tension-highs and lows
  • Manish Gandhi (Exeter) When the heart rules the brain
  • Richard Jacoby (Exeter) Rheumatology for neurologists
  • David Gow (Manchester) Peripheral nerves
  • Desmond Kidd (Royal Free) Neurosarcoidosis
  • Yvonne Hart (Newcastle) Epilepsy
  • David Nicholl (Birmingham) Effective Whistle-blowing skills for neurologists
  • Tom Hughes (Cardiff) Stroke: trials and tribulations
  • Nigel Leigh (Brighton) Motor neurone disease as a syndrome-lumping, splitting or just mixed up?
  • Simon Mead (Queen Square) Prions and dementia: an update, new diagnostic techniques and clinical trials
  • Philip Buttery (Cambridge) Gene therapy and Parkinsonism
  • Nick Davies (Hereford and Birmingham) Metabolic muscle disorders
  • Diane Playford (Queen Square) Vocational rehabilitation and MS

WESAN 2013

  • Simon Hickman (Sheffield) Optic neuritis and multiple sclerosis
  • Paul Hughes (Brighton) Medicine in the Armed Forces
  • Anu Jacob (Liverpool) What’s new in neuromyelitis optica?
  • Mark McCarron (Derry) Have advances in our understanding of cerebral amyloid angiopathy helped the patient?
  • Stuart Weatherby (Plymouth) Rare headache syndromes
  • Andrea E Cavanna (Birmingham) Crossroads in neurology and psychiatry: Tourette syndrome
  • Tim Lewis (Bristol) Neuroradiology
  • Martin Prevett (Southampton) Chronic neurological disease in Africa
  • Angus Kennedy (Chelsea and Westminster) An approach to neurology in the Intensive Care Unit and in obstetrics
  • Nick Davies (Chelsea and Westminster) The neurology of HIV in the combined anti-retroviral era
  • David Bennett (Oxford) Advances in understanding sensory neuropathies and channelopathies
  • John Duncan (Queen Square) Imaging the brain in epilepsy
  • Romi A Saha (Brighton) Movement disorders

WESAN 2014

  • Jonathan Knibb (Brighton) Progressive aphasia
  • Graham Flint (Birmingham) Syringomyelia
  • Tony Warner (Queen Square) Dystonia and dystonia Parkinsonism syndromes
  • Robin Lachman (Queen Square) Metabolic encephalopathy
  • Martin Turner (Oxford) Making a diagnosis of motor neurone disease
  • Tim Lynch (Dublin) I have learned from my patients
  • Michael Pelly (Chelsea and Westminster) Managing a humanitarian disaster
  • Tony Marson (Liverpool) Seizures, epilepsy and driving
  • Peter Brex (King’s College, London) A NICE update of multiple sclerosis
  • Raanan Gillon (Queen Square) Minimally conscious state, medical ethics and English Law
  • Robert Guiloff (Queen Square) Recent developments in neuropathic pain
  • Barry Seemungal (Charring Cross) A clinical and scientific approach to acute dizziness
  • Andrew Larner (Liverpool) Which screening tool should I use in a patient complaining of poor memory

WESAN 2015

  • Kerry Mills (King’s College, London) EMG and NCV-use and misuse in neurology
  • Melissa Maguire (Leeds) Music and its associations with epileptic disorders
  • Guy Leschziner (London) Differential diagnosis of parasomnias
  • Matt Craner (Oxford) Neuroprotection in MS-old drugs, new tricks
  • Gareth Llewelyn (Cardiff) Recognising and treating peripheral nervous system vasculitis
  • Steve Sturman (Birmingham) Assessment of consciousness and prognosis after acute brain injury
  • Paul Lewis (London) Brain tumour history
  • Justin Pearson (Bristol) Hyperacute stroke units
  • James Miller(Newcastle) Myositis-rashes, inclusions and drugs
  • Raanan Gillon (London) Minimally conscious state, medical ethics and English Law
  • Heather Angus-Leppan (London) Migraine and headache
  • Jeff Kimber (London) Autonomic disorders
  • Alan Whone (Bristol) Current and future advanced treatments for Parkinsonism


And this year, WESAN 2016 offers:

  • Charlotte Dougan (Liverpool) Muscle disorders
  • Hadi Manji (London) Drug-related neuropathies
  • Simon Farmer (London) Superficial siderosis
  • Martin Sadler (Plymouth)  Epilepsy
  • Kate Petheram (Sunderland) Multiple sclerosis
  • David Werring (London) Microbleeds and cerebral amyloid
  • Chris Allen (Cambridge) A Lifetime in neurology
  • John Stein Dyslexia
  • Andrew Brown (DVLA) Neurologists and driving
  • Thomasin Andrews(London) Huntington’s Disease and movement disorders
  • Mark Wardle (Cambridge) Ataxias: an overview and diagnostic strategy
  • Diego Kaski (London) Diagnosis and management of acute vertigo-central or peripheral?
  • Ibrahim Imam (Exeter) Neurology in Nigeria


Was WESAN really called The Bath Course, in the distance past? Was David Bateman associated with WESAN in any way? Keep an eye out for the answers in follow-up post on A Short History of WESAN by Chris Gardener-Thorpe.




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