ANF News Express

AANEM Foundation News Express

Eleanor Thomas, MD, PhD, Receives 2022 Golseth Young Investigator Award

Golseth Young Investigator Award The Golseth Young Investigator Award, honoring AANEM founding member Dr. James Golseth, is given to the best research submitted by a young physician to the AANEM Annual Meeting.

Title: COVID-19 Infection in Myasthenia Gravis: Clinical Course and Outcomes

Thomas’s team investigated outcomes of myasthenia gravis (MG) patients infected with SARSCoV-2 and identified risk factors for MG exacerbation and severe disease.

“In particular, we investigated COVID-19 severity, side effects to virus treatments, rates of myasthenia exacerbation, and whether changes to their MG treatments were necessary due to COVID-19 infection. This study was performed during the time that widespread vaccination was being implemented, and we were also able to study outcomes in vaccinated patients,” said Thomas.

They found that patients with MG are at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19, including hospitalization, ventilation, and death. Vaccination appeared protective against severe outcomes, as there were no mortalities in this subset of patients. In patients with exacerbation, they studied common treatments for MG exacerbation, including plasma exchange (PLEX) and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), and complications from these therapies.

Thomas said this research will help her to educate MG patients about expected outcomes from COVID-19. “I was a neurology resident during the entire pandemic, and neurologic outcomes due to COVID-19 were an important part of my day-to-day practice. I have had the privilege to follow a number of MG patients in my clinic over the past 3 years, and they often ask me about their risks from the virus and vaccination. This research has allowed me to give a better answer to their questions.”

She hopes further studies will address risk of MG exacerbation due to COVID-19 compared to other respiratory viruses, as well as efficacy of vaccination in preventing severe outcomes in MG patients.

Thomas is looking forward to meeting with colleagues in person and learning about ongoing research in NM medicine at the upcoming AANEM Annual Meeting. “I will enjoy networking with other trainees at institutions across the country. I am especially excited about visiting Nashville, since I love this part of the country.”

She thanked the AANEM & ANF for recognizing young investigators in NM medicine, and said, “it was so fun and unexpected to receive this award, which will fund my trip to Nashville and further my educational and research objectives.”

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