Presentations at the ENCALS scientific meeting


May 2021: Some of our early-career researchers are presenting their work at the European Network to Cure ALS scientific conference, which kicks off online today.

The annual ENCALS conference is a key fixture in the diary for many MND researchers across Europe. It's a chance to get together, discuss findings and forge new collaborations.

The 2021 meeting will be online. As for many people, we have been adjusting to online meetings and conferences over the last year. While it might not be so easy to meet people in this format, it certainly has the advantage that everyone can attend without having to travel, meaning more important MND research can be shared and discussed.

The presentations by Euan MacDonald Centre researchers are as follows. Good luck to all!

Olivia Rifai

Olivia is a Wellcome Translational Neuroscience supervised by Dr Chris Sibley.

She is presenting a poster this afternoon (12 May, 2:43 – 3:28 pm) and also giving a rapid fire presentation on Friday (14 May, 2:00-2:03).

Title: Investigating neuroinflammatory dysregulation and its implications for disease phenotype and progression in C9orf72 post-mortem tissue

Olivia's project investigates how inflammation occurs in the brain of people with MND, and how it may influence aspects of MND such as cognitive impairment (changes in thinking, memory and behaviour). The team has found that a certain type of brain cell (microglia) may be causing inflammation and contributing to cognitive impairment in MND, and that several genes that may play a role in this process. By better understanding how inflammation is affecting MND symptoms, we can better target treatments to help people who experience those symptoms.

Emily Beswick

Emily is a Euan MacDonald Centre student supervised by Dr Suvankar Pal.

Emily is presenting a poster today (12th May, 15:45).

Title: A systematic review of the utility of wearable devices for monitoring motor progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Emily's review considered how wearable devices have been used in previous research studies to explore how they can offer a new way of monitoring physical symptoms. The team found that devices such as activity monitors, smartphone apps and movement sensors were a promising new direction in MND research, but more research needs to be done. The use of these devices may be beneficial to people with MND as it means we can take more detailed measurements of your symptoms and often the data can be collected remotely in your own home.

Caroline McHutchison

Caroline is a post-doctoral researcher in Prof Sharon Abrahams' lab.

Caroline is giving an oral presentation tomorrow (13th May, 3:51pm).

Title: Are psychiatric symptoms in people with MND and their kindreds associated with cognition and behaviour in people with MND?

Some people with MND experience changes in their thinking (cognition) and behaviour. Caroline will present results suggesting that these changes are associated with more symptoms of certain psychiatric disorders reported by people with MND and their relatives. As we learn more about who is most at risk of cognitive and behavioural changes in MND, we will be more able to provide the appropriate help and support to those who need it. 

Liz Elliott

Liz is a Euan MacDonald Centre student supervised by Prof Siddharthan Chandran.

She will be giving a talk on Friday (14th May, 3:30 PM - 3:45 PM)

Title: Neurovascular dysfunction distinguishes sporadic ALS cases with long and short disease durations

Liz and colleagues are studying donated human brain samples to investigate the biological processes underlying differences in MND disease duration. By comparing samples from long and short disease duration cases they have identified key differences in the genes which control inflammation and the lining of the brain. Understanding of the microscopic processes which cause different types of MND will help us to develop targeted therapies. 

Debbie Gray

Debbie is a SPRINT-MND/MS student supervised by Prof Sharon Abrahams.

She will be presenting a poster today (12th May, 3:45-4:30pm).

Title: Development and validation of the remote administration of the Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioural ALS Screen (ECAS): Work in progress

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges to MND clinical care and research, which has accelerated the need to remotely continue providing the best care to patients and ensure that research can continue. The team has developed a remote administration method of a popular cognitive screening tool (the ECAS) and Debbie will discuss the process of how they will validate this measure. The aim is to demonstrate that the remote administration of the ECAS is a valid and appropriate assessment method for people with MND and that clinicians, researchers and patients view it as a good alternative to face-to-face administration.  


Related links

ENCALS meeting 2021 website. The programme is available to browse, but access to the talks and posters is by paid registration.



This article was published on: Wednesday, May 12, 2021