RCSI Continues to Monitor the Spread of COVID-19

At present, with no reported cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ireland, RCSI will continue to carry out its normal day-to-day functions and all planned events, but the situation will be monitored closely.

Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting weekly to continue its review of the country’s ongoing preparedness in line with advice from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in Ireland, the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Within RCSI, a working group is meeting once a week, and more often when required, to update our plans based on any changes to the public advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team, the WHO and ECDC. The group is being advised by RCSI Professors Sam McConkey and Hilary Humphreys and Dr Fidelma Fitzpatrick.

This is a fast-moving situation and staff and students will be updated by email as the situation evolves and in response to the guidance being issued by the relevant authorities.

Advice and guidance
The most up-to-date source of guidance is the Opens in new windowHealth Protection Surveillance Centre, which has developed a helpful FAQ. In addition to general information, it also includes information on prevention, signs/symptoms/travel advice and the global situation.


Travel guidance
In response to Irish and international public health guidance and official travel advisories, RCSI Travel is restricting travel to and from China.

In respect of personal travel, RCSI is strongly advising staff and students not to travel to China or travel from China to Ireland. If you any queries, please contact the Health and Safety Office.

If you have returned to Ireland from an affected area in the last 14 days, you are asked to stay at home for 14 days and notify RCSI’s Health and Safety Office and your line manager. Please also ring your local Opens in new windowDepartment of Public Health and they will advise you of the next steps over the phone. Do not present at your GP surgery or an ED.

Staff must notify the RCSI Health and Safety Office if visitors from an affected area are due to visit RCSI before any travel arrangements are made.

Symptoms and prevention
Common signs of infection include:

  • Respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing as part of respiratory etiquette
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough or sneezing

If you are unwell on return from travel to an affected area, stay at home and call your local Opens in new windowDepartment of Public Health. Do not present at an Emergency department or at your GP practice. There is further information available on the Opens in new windowHPSC website.

This is a potentially worrying time for staff and students, and parents, most particularly for those with family and friends in the affected regions. It is possible that members of the RCSI community may experience discrimination or alienation over the coming period. Respect is a core value of RCSI and it is important that we show our support to any colleague or student who may be affected.

Irish Researchers Integrate Epilepsy Genomics into Electronic Patient Records

Electronic Health Record

Researchers in Ireland are one step closer to offering seamless personalized care to epilepsy patients nationwide, reporting that they have developed a genomics module within an epilepsy‐specific electronic patient record (EPR). The improved access to genomic data will allow clinical teams to understand the causes of a patient’s epilepsy and develop personalized care.

The research was published recently in the August 2019 issue of the journal Epilepsiain an article entitled “Development of a genomics module within an epilepsy‐specific electronic health record: Toward genomic medicine in epilepsy care.”

“We now know that much of previously unexplained epilepsy is due, in part, to damaging variants in a person’s genome,” said Norman Delanty, MD, first author on the paper, in a press release. “The potential to understand the reason for a particular person’s epilepsy at a molecular level, and to use this information to develop personalized therapies, will become a significant advancement in the way we practice medicine.”

Delanty is an associate professor at Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) and consultant neurologist at Beaumont Hospital. He is also a FutureNeuro Investigator. FutureNeuro is Science Foundation Ireland’s Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases, hosted by RCSI. Its researchers work with industry to develop diagnostic, therapeutic and eHealth solutions. Delanty and his colleagues worked with researchers from the Irish government’s Health Service Executive’s Epilepsy Lighthouse Project, which focuses on personalizing epilepsy care.

The authors of the new paper said their work illustrates the role of eHealth technology in embedding genomics into the clinical pathway. In the report, Delanty and colleagues outline the development and integration of an epilepsy genomics module into a preexisting epilepsy EPR system. They also describe how this EPR infrastructure is used to facilitate discussion at multidisciplinary clinical meetings around molecular diagnosis and the resulting changes in management.

Nearly 3.5 million people in the U.S. live with epilepsy, a chronic disorder that causes life-disrupting seizures. About 470,000 of those cases are children. Today, many adults and children with epilepsy of unknown cause now undergo genomic testing, shedding light on the underlying cause of their condition.

In recent years, scientists have discovered more than 20 different syndromes that have epilepsy as a main feature. These have been mapped to specific genes. In addition, many more Mendelian disorders have epilepsy as a primary symptom. Researchers have identified mutations in genes that encode sodium, potassium, and calcium channels that can cause epilepsy. These discoveries have begun to impact clinical care for epilepsy.

The new epilepsy EPR module facilitates regular multidisciplinary meetings between clinicians, geneticists, bioinformaticians, and other team members, where they review data from genomic testing to determine if there is an identifiable genetic cause for a patient’s epilepsy.

“The epilepsy EPR system is one of the largest, most detailed collections of active epilepsy eHealth records in the world,” said Mary Fitzsimons, FutureNeuro epilepsy eHealth lead and director of the Epilepsy Lighthouse Project at RCSI, in the release.

“To our knowledge, the epilepsy genomics module we have developed is the first such specific system in the world. We believe the combined power of genomics and electronic patient records has the capability of enhancing, and in some cases transforming, the practice of medicine.”

Written by: Clinical OMICS