Seven minutes in stroke: Adrian Parry-Jones

What inspired you towards neuroscience? I got my first taste of neuroscience in the second year of medical school at the University of Manchester. We had a great Professor of Neuroanatomy (Alan Crossman) who had an amazing talent for bringing the subject to life. From that moment on, I couldn’t really see how anything in medicine could ever be quite so interesting! I was inspired to do an intercalated BSc in Neuroscience the following year during which I did my first piece of research, working on a basic science project exploring signalling pathways in the basal ganglia. I found the discovery of new knowledge very engaging and when I returned to medicine a year later, I was set on a career in neurology and knew that I wanted to get back in to research again further down the line.

Why stroke? When I trained as a junior doctor, stroke patients were assessed and treated by the general medical on-call team in most hospitals in the UK. Apart from the fact that our consultant was very keen that we remembered to prescribe graded compression stockings (how times have changed!), I remember feeling that there was little to offer acutely to patients affected by what was (and is) such a common and sometimes devastating condition. When I was working in London and looking to return to research to complete a PhD, stroke was undergoing quite a transformation in the UK and seemed an exciting area to work in with the potential to make a real difference. I then happened upon an advert for a Clinical Research Fellow post back in Manchester with Profs Nancy Rothwell and Pippa Tyrrell. I’d been aware of Nancy’s research around inflammation and stroke during my time in Manchester and I undertook a PhD in preclinical stroke research, using MR to understand how inflammation worsens brain injury after ischaemic stroke.

What have been the highs so far? Definitely getting my current 5-year NIHR Clinician Scientist Award in late 2014, which allows me protected time for research and funding for a programme of early phase clinical studies around the inflammatory response to intracerebral haemorrhage. The award is allowing me the time and space to develop as a researcher and clinician and I’m very grateful to the NIHR for this amazing opportunity.

What have been the lows? Not getting an NIHR Clinician Scientist Award on my first attempt in late 2013! But in hindsight, this mightn’t have been as bad as it felt at the time as it allowed me to take my plans back to the drawing board and come up with a much improved project that I’m now very excited to be working on.

How do you balance work life with the needs of home life? I asked my wife this question and she said “not very well”! We have three lovely children aged between 2 and 9 and life is a lot of fun but certainly feels busy. I’m definitely guilty of letting work spill over in to my evenings once the kids are in bed, but I try hard to not let the same happen at the weekend. It’s difficult to create clear boundaries between work and home life, especially with email on smartphones and collaborators around the world in different time zones. It’s a work in progress…

Who are your most important mentors and how did you find them? In Manchester, Nancy Rothwell and Pippa Tyrrell have been my mentors since I started my PhD and have been incredibly supportive. I owe a great deal to them and am very grateful for their help and guidance. Pippa, through her energy, positivity and exceptional talent for helping people reach their potential has managed to bring together and build up what were disparate researchers in to a thriving and growing stroke research group that spans the innovation pathway, all the way from basic science to implementation research. Because of this, it’s a great time to be a stroke researcher in Manchester and I hope we can continue to grow and thrive in the future. Outside Manchester, I am very fortunate to have Profs Gary Ford and Alastair Buchan as mentors for my NIHR award and it is a great privilege to be able to draw on their extensive experience and expertise as I develop.

What are your most important collaborations and how have you built them? I was put in touch with Prof Dan Hanley from Johns Hopkins by David Mendelow from Newcastle when I began to become interested in intracerebral haemorrhage. I’ve learnt a great deal from Dan about intracerebral haemorrhage, a topic he has focussed on during his career. I’m also immensely grateful to him for allowing me to add my NIHR-funded sub-study to his international, multicentre trial of minimally invasive surgery and clot lysis for intracerebral haemorrhage (MISTIE III). MISTIE III is an amazing opportunity to collect serial samples from within the haematoma of patients after intracerebral haemorrhage, allowing a real insight in to the inflammatory response in the brain of patients. I’d never have been able to do this study without the help and support of Dan and his excellent BIOS team. In Manchester, I have too many collaborators to name them all, but probably the key ones are Prof Stuart Allan and Dr David Brough (basic science researchers) and our close interaction allows us to take work in the laboratory and test it in early phase clinical research. Given that surgery plays a major part in intracerebral haemorrhage care, I’m also immensely thankful to have a great clinical and research collaboration with Hiren Patel, an excellent Vascular Neurosurgeon at Salford Royal Hospital.

Seven minutes in stroke: Adrian Parry-Jones Reviewed by Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins on Monday, August 01, 2016 Rating: 5

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