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Declaration of sponsorship Novartis Pharma AG

One Neuroscience Podcast

Declaration of sponsorship Novartis Pharma AG
Read time: 135 mins
Last updated:13th Sep 2022
Published:16th Nov 2020

Expert experiences with neurological disorder diagnosis, investigation and treatment

Develop your knowledge of the challenges in diagnosis and management of neurological disorders with world-leading experts, including Dr Ide Smets, Dr Rhys Thomas and Dr Joe Anderson.

Episode 1: Expert experiences with focal epilepsy diagnosis, investigation and treatment

Join Dr Rhys Thomas and Dr Joseph Anderson for an exploration of the lessons learned throughout 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out about the initial impact of the pandemic on first seizure referrals and the rapid changes that shook Dr Thomas in delivering care. Also, hear their strategies for ensuring patients can continue to be investigated and treated as best as possible, the benefits and drawbacks of diagnosing and communicating via telemedicine, and how to balance patient risks when investigating and treating patients.

Episode 2: Multiple sclerosis and exercise

Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) decrease exercise frequency due to the fear that it will worsen MS symptoms. Dominic Shadbolt and Dr Ide Smets discuss how regular exercise or physical activity is a healthy and effective means of rehabilitation in people with MS. Compelling evidence shows that a personalised exercise programme can improve fitness, functional ability, and quality of life in people with MS.

Episode 3: Multiple sclerosis, pregnancy, lactation, and deciding to have a baby

What is it like for a woman to have multiple sclerosis and to be pregnant? Dr Ruth Dobson (Clinical Senior Lecturer in Neurology [Multiple Sclerosis], Wolfson Institute of Population Health, Queen Mary University, UK), speaks with Ellen Tutton, patient with multiple sclerosis, and mother of an 8-month old baby, about her experiences being pregnant, family planning decision-making, and how she responded when lactating was a challenge.

Episode 4: Sex and Intimacy with Multiple Sclerosis

A topic that may be difficult to raise between patients and their neurologists or other healthcare providers, issues related to sex and intimacy affect people with multiple sclerosis (MS) with some unique concerns. In this episode, Professor Klaus Schmierer of the Blizard Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine & Dentistry and Rebecca Scott, a regular contributor to theMSguide who was diagnosed with MS in 2004, have an open and frank discussion about sex, intimacy and MS that should encourage all those listening to consider how to best support their patients and their particular needs in this important matter.

Episode 5: Brain fog and fatigue with multiple sclerosis

In this episode, led by Dr Victoria Leavitt with support from Caroline Wyatt, focuses on the cognitive toll MS imposes on individuals with the disease. This episode delves deep into the effect lifestyle factors can have on the effectiveness of MS treatments, and the debilitating symptoms of MS, and how patients can control them. The podcast concludes with an in-depth analysis of the importance of mental health support during MS progression.

Episode 6: MS, vaccines, and misinformation: A patient perspective

Join Assistant Professor of Neurology, Dr John Ciotti, MD and Dominic Shadbolt, an MS patient advocate, as they discuss in candid detail the turbulent relationship between vaccines and MS, and how misinformation plays a huge role in how MS patients perceive vaccinations. This podcast delves into how healthcare professionals can better alleviate any worries patients may have surrounding vaccinations as a result of misinformation.

Episode 7: Managing depression and suicidality in people with MS

In this episode, Dr Alissa Willis, MD is joined by Teresa Johnson to discuss the prevalence of depression, and the huge impact this has, both psychologically and physically, for those who have Multiple sclerosis. An open and honest discussion between the coexistence of suicidality, depression and MS is explored, with methods that can be employed to help aide in overcoming detrimental psychological episodes.

This series is intended for registered healthcare professionals only.

Meet the Experts

Dr John Ciotti.pngDr John Ciotti

John Ciotti is an Assistant Professor in the MS Division of the Department of Neurology at the University of South Florida, and an Attending Neurologist at the James A. Haley VA in Tampa, Florida. He was born and raised in Tampa and received undergraduate degrees in Biology and Economics at the University of Florida before attending medical school at Florida Atlantic University. He did his residency training in Neurology at Washington University in St. Louis. He stayed in St. Louis, Missouri for an additional two-year fellowship training program in MS at Washington University and obtained a Master of Science degree in Clinical Investigation. He is now back home in Tampa where he sees patients in multidisciplinary MS clinics both at USF and the VA, conducts clinical trials for people with MS, and helps train the next generation of neurologists and MS specialists. John Ciotti has received grant/research support from Biogen and the National MS Society, and has participated in advisory boards for EMD Serono, Genentech, and Janssen.

Dr Mary Alissa Willis.pngDr Mary Alissa Willis

Dr Mary Alissa Willis is a clinician-educator passionate about multiple sclerosis and making neurology relevant and interesting for all trainees. Her personal mission as chair of the department of neurology at University of Mississippi Medical Centre is to improve access to and quality of neurologic care for all Mississippians. Dr Willis completed her bachelor of science in chemical engineering at Mississippi State University and her medical degree at UMMC. Dr Willis completed neurology residency training at UMMC and clinical neuroimmunology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. After serving as faculty at Cleveland Clinic for 6 years, Dr Willis returned home to Mississippi in 09/2019 as chair of the department of neurology. Dr Willis also serves on the Board of Trustees for the local chapter of the National MS Society. She is the current 2nd vice president of the Association of University Professors of Neurology and chair of the Neuro Institute board of directors at UMMC. She is an active clinical investigator for multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica clinical trials.

Teresa Wright-Johnson.pngTeresa Wright-Johnson

Teresa Wright-Johnson is a Congenital Heart Disease Survivor and a Multiple Sclerosis Warrior. She is also an advocate, author, inspirational speaker and poet. She uses her illnesses and experiences as opportunities to further rely on her faith, walk in her truth, raise awareness, educate and empower others. Diversity, inclusion and health equity matter to Teresa and her advocacy efforts solidify her commitment to amplifying the patient voice and to racial and social justice. Teresa is a graduate of Rutgers University with a professional background in Criminal Justice, Social Services and Supervision. She is a retired Senior Parole Officer. Teresa serves on several patient advisory boards and is a columnist, contributor and guest writer for multiple patient advocacy sites. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors as Vice Chairman for Heart Valve Voice US, Board of Directors member for the Lehigh Valley American Heart Association, Iconquer MS Engagement Committee member and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair. Teresa is a member of the inaugural HealtheVoices DEAI Task Force Member and a Lyfebulb Ambassador.


Dr Victoria Leavitt.pngDr Victoria Leavitt

Vicky Leavitt is a neuropsychologist and neuroscientist specializing in the cognitive and psychological sequelae of multiple sclerosis. Dr. Leavitt is assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center where she maintains a faculty practice within the MS Center. For over ten years, Dr. Leavitt’s research has focused on symptoms affecting quality of life for people living with MS including cognitive impairment, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. An additional focus of her research involves quantifying large-scale neuronal network alterations as a predictor of memory decline in MS, a project recently funded by the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. She is the recipient of grants from the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Defense, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Caroline Wyatt.pngCaroline Wyatt

Caroline Wyatt is a British broadcaster and writer who reported on global affairs for radio and TV for over 25 years, and now presents radio programmes and documentaries. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2015, and is keen to find and share ways of ameliorating the impact of secondary progressive MS.


Ruth Dobson (2).pngDr Ruth Dobson

Dr Ruth Dobson is a Consultant Neurologist with extensive experience in multiple sclerosis and related disorders. Her current research projects include the role of the Epstein Barr virus in MS, and a multi-centre pharmacovigilance study in MS. Ruth is also studying the role of modifiable factors such as vitamin D in the development of MS and its subsequent complications, and is working on the development of a pre-symptomatic high-risk register. She has been awarded numerous scholarships and has presented her work widely at national and international level. She has published widely in the field of neurology and has over 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals.


Dr Ide Smets.pngDr Ide Smets

Dr. Ide Smets is an academic neurologist at Erasmus MC Rotterdam in The Netherlands and specializes in MS and other demyelinating diseases. She was awarded the 2019 ECTRIMS clinical fellowship grant to complete a fellowship at Barts MS in London under supervision of Prof. Giovannoni. She obtained her PhD at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium by demonstrating how genetic MS risk factors shape the immune system. Her current research interests are the clinical use of neurofilaments, treatment strategies, B cells and patient engagement in MS. She frequently discusses new research on these topics on the MS blog (


Dominic Shadbolt.pngDominic Shadbolt

Dominic received his MS diagnosis in 1994 and is 53 and recently achieved both a BA and an MSc from top universities. Married with a 19y old daughter and living near Oxford in the UK he is about to start his fifth DMT and is a big proponent of exercise. As an active member of the MS community, Dominic started a YouTube channel in March 2021 called where he talks with patients and professionals about MS from a purely patient perspective. Dominic has prior experience in consulting, sales, technology and pharmaceuticals as well as founding and selling a successful business. 


Dr Rhys Thomas.pngDr Rhys Thomas

Dr Rhys Thomas is an Honorary Consultant in Epilepsy at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he leads on epilepsy and learning disability, genetic testing in the epilepsies and epilepsy in mitochondrial disorders. His research interests include the causes and consequences of epilepsy - primarily the genetic causes of the epilepsies.



Dr Joseph Anderson.pngDr Joseph Anderson

Dr Joseph Anderson is a Consultant Neurologist and lead undergraduate tutor for Neurology at the Royal Gwent Hospital. His clinical interest is in epilepsy and acute neurology.


  1. Chow N, Fleming-Dutra K, Gierke R, Hall A, Hughes M, Pilishvili T, et al. Preliminary Estimates of the Prevalence of Selected Underlying Health Conditions Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 — United States, February 12–March 28, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(13):382–386.
  2. French JA, Brodie MJ, Caraballo R, Devinsky O, Ding D, Jehi L, et al. Keeping people with epilepsy safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Neurology. 2020;94(23):1032–1037.