Interview with Melinda Setanoians, Medical Director (Neuroscience) at Jazz Pharmaceuticals

Ahead of Brain Innovation Days: Connecting Brains, we spoke with Melinda Setanoians, Medical Director of Neuroscience at Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

Melinda, welcome to Brain Innovation Days 2022!
Thank you. At Jazz Pharmaceuticals, we’re proud to be a platinum sponsor of Brain Innovation Days. After the success of last year, we’re very excited to be back and part of such an interesting and topical programme again this year, and to encourage discussion around the future of epilepsy care specifically.

What does your role involve at Jazz Pharmaceuticals?
I work as a Medical Director of Neuroscience at Jazz Pharmaceuticals. The most important aspect of my role is to facilitate the advancement of medical education, and each day for me is different. Some days, I’ll be providing medical and strategic leadership to support educational initiatives and the next I’ll be assisting in scientific advisory boards, neurology conference activities or external collaborations. One of the things I enjoy most about my role is that I have the opportunity to work with a diverse range of people, from key external experts to those that work in the patient advocacy community. For me, it’s fascinating to learn about the different perspectives of those in the neuroscience field.

The theme of this year’s Brain Innovation Days is ‘Connecting Brains’, with the aim of bringing together current and future generations of brain research and innovation. What does brain innovation mean to Jazz Pharmaceuticals?
As an official partner of Brain Innovation Days, Jazz Pharmaceuticals shares many values with the initiative. First and foremost, we firmly believe in the importance of high-quality scientific research driving our future understanding and management of brain disorders, be they neurological, psychological or otherwise. We are also committed to developing innovative solutions to help improve the lives of patients. To achieve this at a European level, we believe it’s crucial for ideas to be exchanged by a range of stakeholders, including patient advocacy groups, healthcare professionals and policy makers.

Why is Jazz Pharmaceuticals passionate about innovation in neuroscience?
Here at Jazz, we’re passionate about innovation in neuroscience because we believe all people, particularly those with difficult, complex conditions, deserve to live their lives as fully as possible. We are committed to leveraging our expertise in neuroscience to develop innovative solutions that address the unmet needs of patients. We do this knowing that with every decision we make, we can help to transform the lives of patients and their families – and create a lasting impact.

What activities does Jazz Pharmaceuticals have planned at Brain Innovation Days 2022?
On Tuesday 11 October, we have a satellite symposium session entitled Conversations in epilepsy: present challenges and future innovations, which will take place at 16:15–17:00 CEST in the Main Auditorium. In this session, Donna Walsh, Chief Executive Officer at the International Bureau for Epilepsy, and Dr Manny Bagary, Consultant Epileptologist at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, will bring a diversity of perspectives on the topics discussed. This session will be chaired by Natasha Lorch, Senior Director of Global Public Policy at Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

The speakers will be sharing insights on the challenges faced by patients with epilepsy, including comorbidities they may experience, their quality of life, and their transition from paediatric to adult care. Additionally, they’ll be discussing the areas of future research, governmental and policy support, and other innovations that could help patients to manage or overcome the challenges they face.

What does Jazz Pharmaceuticals see as some of the most significant challenges facing patients with epilepsy?

The impact of epilepsy on patient quality of life extends far beyond the effects of seizures. Patients often live with a wide variety of comorbidities, from those related to mental health, such as anxiety and depression, to more physical ones, such as pain, respiratory disorders or diabetes.It’s not just patient quality of life that needs to be considered – families and carers are also affected.Because of this, we feel strongly about helping to facilitate policy change and innovation in the field. To find out more about some of the potential ways this could be achieved, please do come along to our session on Tuesday 11 October.

What does Jazz Pharmaceuticals hope to achieve through its policy event at this year’s Brain Innovation Days?
Through our session, we’re hoping to encourage an exchange of ideas from a range of backgrounds, fitting the ‘Connecting Brains’ theme of this year’s Brain Innovation Days. We would like to bring together stakeholders with diverse expertise to help accelerate innovation in epilepsy and bring about a better future for those living with the condition.
We look forward to seeing some of you at our session!

1. Seidenberg M, Pulsipher DT, Hermann B. Association of epilepsy and comorbid conditions. Future Neurol 2009;4:663–668
2. Karakis I, Cole AJ, Montouris GD et al. Caregiver burden in epilepsy: determinants and impact. Epilepsy Res Treat 2014;2014:808421