To mark International Women’s Day, this year we’re celebrating the extensive contribution of women to epilepsy research. And when it comes to that contribution, few have had an impact in our field greater than that of our very own President, Professor J Helen Cross OBE.
Professor Cross is The Prince of Wales’s Chair of Childhood Epilepsy, Head of Developmental Neurosciences Programme and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Neurology at UCL Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital. Last year, Helen was also elected President of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), the preeminent association of healthcare professionals and scientists working in epilepsy across the globe. This is a tremendous accolade, recognising Helen’s leadership in epilepsy and as a clinician. It came as no surprise that Helen secured 77% of the votes in the ILAE presidential election.
Helen’s major research interest is optimising outcomes in the early onset epilepsies, which has involved establishing one of the largest epilepsy surgery programmes in the world. Her work focuses on the utilisation of advanced imaging techniques, as well as determining outcomes from early surgery. Helen has significantly contributed to the evidence base of epilepsy treatments. She has edited five books, including a definitive childhood epilepsy text and a ketogenic diet cookery book, and has published more than 300 peer reviewed primary research articles and 50 review articles. Alongside this, Helen has also pioneered clinical research into adjunctive and alternative epilepsy therapies, such as the ketogenic diet and cannabinoids. You can see Helen in our Hot Topic webinar session on this popular topic.
Helen was awarded an OBE in 2015 for her services to children with epilepsy. In 2018, the American Epilepsy Society honoured Helen with a Research Recognition Award for Clinical Science, highlighting excellence in epilepsy research and once again establishing her as a global leader in epilepsy research.
When Helen isn’t leading on life changing, life saving research into epilepsy, you can find her championing charities like Epilepsy Research UK. Professor Cross has been long involved with the charity, serving as Chair of Trustees between 2005 and 2011, before becoming President of Epilepsy Research UK in 2017. Helen also plays a critical role with other charities, including as a Trustee for Young Epilepsy and Matthew’s Friends, and as Medical Advisory Board Chair for Dravet Syndrome UK.
Helen’s commitment to the epilepsy community is nothing short of inspirational. She is revered by her fellow clinicians, researchers and patients, and of course, for charities like us, she goes the extra mile to support our work.
Maxine Smeaton, Epilepsy Research UK Chief Executive