Cardiff University researcher Professor Mike Kerr has been named an Ambassador for Epilepsy by an international organisation that raises awareness of the condition.
Professor Kerr, a Principal Investigator for the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH), is the only UK representative among the twelve international ambassadors named by The International League Against Epilepsy in 2015.
Professor Kerr received the honour, which is given every two years, for his contributions to research into epilepsy and its relationship to learning disability, also known as intellectual disability.
Over 600,000 people in the UK have epilepsy, which is characterised by seizures or fits which temporarily disrupt the function of the brain. Around 1 in 6 people with epilepsy has learning disabilities, and around a fifth of all people with learning disabilities have epilepsy.
President of the International League Against Epilepsy Professor Emilio Perucca said: “We are making great progress in treating epilepsy, and the work of Professor Kerr brings us closer to a world in which people are not limited by this disease”
“Mike has been recognised in part for his many contributions to improving quality of care for people with seizures and epilepsy, especially for those who suffer from intellectual disabilities.”
“His research has had a great impact on our understanding of the psychosocial problems that are common among people with epilepsy, and which significantly impact their quality of life.”
The League also cited Professor Kerr’s work as the chair of a task force to create guidelines for the treatment of neuropsychiatric conditions associated with the disease.
Professor Kerr said: “Epilepsy provides many challenges to those with the condition and their families. Working with people who have epilepsy in Wales and supported by colleagues in Cardiff University we have been able to try and reduce the impact of epilepsy on people’s lives. There is now far greater recognition of the emotional impact of epilepsy, and in the need to improve the social lives of people, as well of course to reduce the impact of the seizures.”
“Most importantly we have been able to communicate within the UK and internationally the special complexity of needs suffered by people with intellectual disability and epilepsy and, I hope, support improvement in care for this population”
NCMH, which is funded by Health and Care Research Wales and also works closely with Bangor and Swansea Universities, has recently placed new emphasis on learning disabilities, with Professor Kerr leading this arm of its research.
NCMH Director Professor Ian Jones said:
“This honour is well deserved. Professor Kerr’s work in epilepsy and learning disabilities is world-renowned, and justifiably so. We hope that with the benefit of his expertise, our research will be able to make a real difference for those affected in the future.”
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