The World Muscle Society is delighted to sponsor four Fellows from the International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases (ICGNMD) to attend its 2022 Congress.
Dr Venugopalan Y Vishnu is an Associate Professor at AIIMS Department of Neurology and ICGNMD Faculty PI Fellow and Centre Co-Investigator. He has wide-ranging neurology and neuromuscular disease interests, including a first in-depth characterisation of the genetic causes of FSHD in India. His clinical and research activity also extends to stroke, cognitive neurology, neuro-ophthalmology and imaging. Dr Venugopalan Y Vishnu also established AIIMS’ comprehensive neuromuscular disorders telemedicine service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What has been your education and career path to date?
I was born in the Southern-most state of India, Kerala. I completed medical school (under graduation – MBBS) at Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. Following this I pursued MD residency in Internal Medicine from JIPMER, Puducherry and three-year residency (DM) in Neurology at PGIMER Chandigarh. I worked briefly as Assistant Professor, Neurology at PIMS Puducherry and PGIMER Chandigarh before joining AIIMS New Delhi as a regular faculty. Currently I am an Associate Professor, Neurology and pursuing an MRC funded Faculty PI Fellowship in Neuromuscular Genomic Medicine with the UK partner centre UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology. I have recently been selected for the inaugural World Stroke Organisation Future Leaders Programme and received training in Cochrane systematic reviews and meta-analysis at Cochrane South Asia.
What is your current research project and why is this important?
I am currently working on a collaborative project between AIIMS New Delhi and UCL, London on the first genetic characterisation of Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy in India. Currently there is practically no information available on FSHD patients from the Indian subcontinent as there are no facilities for diagnostic testing in India, either in the private or public sector. There is huge unmet need in diagnosis of FSHD. We hope our current work will help to establish FSHD hubs with national and international collaborations, to underpin FSHD diagnosis and research in India.
What are you most passionate about within this field?
The most exciting part right now is uncovering FSHD genetics in India and ultimately developing a strategy to bring therapeutic advances to the affected population.
How has the ICGMND Fellowship supported your research and career development so far?
ICGNMD gives me the opportunity to learn, collaborate and network in the field of neuromuscular genetic disorders. The teaching programmes, including grand rounds, case presentations and in-person training, has helped me immensely to establish a comprehensive neuromuscular disorders clinic at AIIMS New Delhi. One of the most memorable events was the opportunity to present at the prestigious Gower’s Round. The ICGNMD training and collaboration has helped me to get two research grants in FSHD and it has greatly helped my career in Neuromuscular disorders.
What are you looking forward to most about attending the WMS2022 Congress?
I am really looking forward to finding out about all the recent advances in the field of Neuromuscular disorders especially in FSHD, GNE myopathy and LGMD. I am excited about the ongoing trials section in FSHD.
How does being part of a global research community support your work?
Collaboration is very crucial to move science forward in any field. I am very lucky to have great collaborators and mentors at this stage of my career and am really looking forward to learn and network with the amazing global research community at WMS 2022.
What excites you about the future of your field of research?
The possibility of disease modifying drugs in many genetic neuromuscular disorders such as FSHD, GNE myopathy and LGMDs is really exciting and I am looking forward to seeing them in clinical practice within the next decade.