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Our boy from Brazil


12 June 2014

As the World Cup kicks off, our boy from Brazil,  Epilepsy Society's medical director Professor Ley Sander, reflects on his early medical experiences in his home country which inspired him to devote his life to epilepsy.

'While I was studying medicine in Brazil I trained as a paramedic to help top up my grant.  During my first shift on the ambulance we were called out to a public square where a lady was having a seizure.  I knew very little about epilepsy and insisted we rush her to hospital to be seen by a neurologist. the nurses with me said this was unnecessary but I was insistent.

"When we arrived at A&E the doctor was furious that I had brought in someone because of a seizure and called me an idiot. At the  same time the poor lady had come out of her seizure and was also shouting at me as I had no idea where her dog was.  I was humiliated. My pride was hurt. I went to the library and took out every single research book about the subject. 

That was when my lifelong interest in epilepsy began and I haven't stopped learning since. Global health is one of my interests  and I have been involved over the years in setting up services or carrying out research in Brazil, China, Ecuador, Georgia, India, Bulgaria, Kenya a and Senegal.'

Professor Sander qualified in medicine in 1981 at the Universidad Federal do Parana, Curitiba, Brazil. He completed medical and specialist training in neurology in London at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

As well as being Epilepsy Society's medical director his is a consultant neurologist at  NHNN and director of scientific research at SEIN - Epilepsy Institute of the Netherlands Foundation.  He  was recently ranked the world's leading expert on epilepsy. 

His prediction for the outcome of the World Cup 2014? He's not letting on...


Professor Ley Sander, top (right), as a young medic in Brazil: centre, in 1985 when he came to Epilepsy Society as a research fellow; and in 2012 when he was appointed medical director at Epilepsy Society. 

Professor Ley Sander is featured in the summer edition of our magazine Epilepsy Review. Find out more.