A Worthy Excuse for Missing the ASGCT Annual Meeting

Emily Walsh Martin, PhD - May 04, 2022

Starting around May 14, Dr. Walsh Martin will join a five-person crew sailing nonstop for about 21 days from Florida to the Azores on Ingwe, a 50-foot catamaran, for Sail For Epilepsy. 

Check back to our blog every week to learn more about her journey and the emerging gene therapy efforts in syndromic and monogenic epilepsies.

If you know me, then you know there is nothing on this green Earth that could keep me from attending the ASGCT Annual Meeting. The knowledge exchange and camaraderie that the ASGCT community brings to these meetings consistently raises the bar for our industry and ensures we are all holding each other accountable for continuing to deliver the best possible therapies for patients.   

And yet. This year I will not be able to attend even virtually.

To be fair, my excuse is based on something not part of the green Earth, but rather the blue aspects of the planet. Starting sometime around May 14, I will join a five-person volunteer crew sailing nonstop for about 21 days from Florida to the Azores on Ingwe, a 50-foot catamaran, for Sail For Epilepsy.

Sail For Epilepsy is an organization founded by Ingwe’s Captain, Philip Haydon, PhD. Phil is an internationally recognized neuroscientist with medically controlled post-traumatic epilepsy (who happens to study epilepsy as well). Phil started the non-profit organization Sail For Epilepsy with a mission to inspire people with epilepsy to take One More Step towards achieving a fuller life, with the necessary safety measures in place. The three-part goal for this voyage is to inspire people with epilepsy, raise funds to support research for a cure, and promote awareness of epilepsy.

In coordination with this voyage, the ASGCT blog will highlight the emerging gene therapy efforts in syndromic and monogenic epilepsies in a multi-part series, spearheaded by yours truly with input from experts across our community. Specifically, we will highlight:

  • An overview of types of epilepsies that may be benefited by gene therapy 

  • Details about how gene replacement therapy might work for patients with these disorders and what unknowns remain regarding the likely success of such approaches

  • Current status of epilepsy-related gene therapy research and considerations for clinical trial participation

The crew and I hope you will follow along on this voyage with us over the next few weeks as we explore the ocean of knowns and unknowns regarding gene therapeutic approaches in epilepsy. You can be certain that while we are at sea, Phil and I are discussing these topics as we are on watch together trimming the sails!

For more information about Sail For Epilepsy and to locate the boat on its journey, visit Sail For Epilepsy's website.

Emily Walsh Martin is a volunteer crew member for Sail For Epilepsy’s Atlantic crossing on the vessel Ingwe. When she’s not sailing, she is a consultant for gene and cell therapy companies and investors who are seeking to advance novel therapies in the clinic.