Prof Petrus J de Vries

“In the 40th year of the TSA, I am celebrating my own 20 years with TSC”, writes Prof Petrus de Vries, Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

I had just finished my basic training in Psychiatry in Cambridge and was looking for a research training fellowship, as I was interested in an academic career in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
A colleague of mine told me about an advertised Research Training Fellowship on the neuropsychiatry of tuberous sclerosis that would involve neuropsychology, neuro-imaging and genetics.

It sounded very interesting, although I knew little about the disorder apart from a few facts learnt at medical school. However, I applied, got the fellowship (which was funded by the TSA) and, as they say ‘the rest is history’…

I started working with Patrick Bolton in August 1997 and very soon thereafter was introduced to a rather formidable lady called Ann Hunt. Ann was based in Oxford, but established a link with the Cambridge team (which also included Ayla Humphrey at the time).

So, for the next 4 or 5 years, Ann drove through to Cambridge every Tuesday, and we shared an office. The office was rather small, so we literally sat a few feet from each other on a weekly basis. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for our conversations to progress from project-based discussions to all sorts of matters about life and the universe!

Ann and I became very close friends and she had a profound influence on my life and professional career. I will always remember our remarkable trip to Russia in 2001, my delight when she was awarded the Manuel R Gomez Award in 2007, and the bitter-sweetness when I received the Gomez Award in 2014, literally a few weeks after Ann’s death.

My journey with TSC so far has been one of surprises and many delights, also of despair and sadness, mostly when it has been hard to help families find answers for the burden of their TSC-associated neuropsychiatric disorders (TAND).

Most memorably, my journey with TSC has been one one filled with wonderful friendships with a long list of ‘TSC people’ from Ann Hunt and Janet Metcalf, to Chris Kingswood, Julian Sampson, Vicky Whittemore, Anna Jansen, and the delightful TSCi community to name but a few!

Whether we have TSC or not, we all live with TSC in a very personal way.

I will always be indebted to the TSA for that very first grant that brought me, rather unknowingly, into the TSC family.

PDV, Cape Town, October 2017