Shekeeb Mohammad FRACP

Advances in the understanding of Autoimmune encephalitides and associated movement disorders in children

Shekeeb undertook his early paediatric training at the Post graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India and moved to Australia in 2008 to pursue training in paediatric neurology.

Shekeeb trained in paediatric neurology from 2011-2014 first at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and then at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, where he is now an academic fellow and a full time PhD candidate with the University of Sydney under supervision of A/Prof.Russell Dale and Dr.Fabienne Brilot.

Interview by Russell Dale


Tell us a bit about your PhD project

My PhD project is structured to unravel clinical, electrophysiological and radiological features of different autoimmune encephalopathies that are associated with movement disorders – eg. Anti-NMDAR encephalitis, autoimmune basal ganglia encephalitis, Sydenham’s chorea. This will be accomplished by blinded reviews of video phenomenology (completed in 2013), blinded review of EEGs representing different encephalitides and a blinded review of neuroimaging in these conditions as well as undertaking a large review of neuroimaging in conditions with basal ganglia involvement.


Why did you start a PhD, were you emotionally blackmailed by your supervisor?

I was certainly not blackmailed ! During the early stages of my neurology training I found it appealing to aspire for a career as a clinical-academic. I felt that personal experience in research and the rigour of a higher research degree was the logical next step to arm me with essential qualities that being a clinician/academic demands. It was helpful that I also developed an interest in paediatric movement disorders and I was able to find a perfect team and topic that fulfilled the dual purpose of research as well as ongoing training in this area. Consequently I’ve got a custom designed training program in the areas of my interest!


What skills have you acquired so far in your research?

I have learnt to manage my time with simultaneous clinical and teaching demands. I have learnt basic skills of presenting research findings to a lay and to an expert audience, preparing more effective manuscripts for publications. Moreover, I now look at everything with a “Researchy” eye, seeking a project topic or a publication in any case!


What is it that interests you in movement disorders?

As with neurology, what interests me in movement disorders are the many unresolved challenges – in diagnosis and in management. It is an area that has promising treatment modalities for some disorders and emerging options for others.


What is your favourite thing to do in Sydney?

I just love rediscovering the many sights that Sydney offers and particularly love capturing it through my camera lens.