Seven minutes in stroke - Tim Vanbellingen

Dr. Tim Vanbellingen is a neuroscientist at Head Motor Therapies
Neurology and Neurorehabilitation Center, Luzern in Switzerland and the Postdoc Departments of Neurology and Clinical Research at the
University Hospital, Inselspital Bern

1. What inspired you towards neuroscience?
Understanding how our brain actually works, and how this is related to different kinds of human behavior is really fascinating to me and inspired me to become a clinical neuroscientist. Still a lot is unknown, many research questions are open. What is also important to me is how to translate the knowledge derived from basic neuroscience into clinical neuroscience.

2. Why stroke?
Stroke affects many people worldwide, leading to strong disability, reduced quality of life (QoL). The last decade some well performed randomized trials have shown positive effects of exercise therapy improving gait, upper limb function, consequently QoL. Already in the very acute stage of a stroke, early mobilization is important and effective for long term functional outcome. Still, the exact dosage of an specific intervention to improve, for example hand function, in a single stroke patient is difficult to determine.
The effects of exercise therapy on structural and functional brain functioning, plasticity, needs to be much better explored in stroke and is very interesting to me.

3. What have been the highs so far?
Not research related:
-       To met my wife back in 2005. Having two kids together ;-))
Research related:
-       To win an important research award in 2014.
-       Obtaining a peer reviewed research grant just recently

4. What have been the lows?
A close rejection of a revised paper in a high ranked journal.

5. How do you balance work life with the needs of home life?
I try to manage this with a very strict time schedule, to be well organized. I do a lot of conference calls, e-mail checks on the road (in the train) etc… It is also very important to have, at certain time points, a complete, I called it, ‘Offline modus’. No cell-phone, laptop, television ; just family, wife, kids, and the beautiful surroundings of Switzerland, my second home country (besides Belgium off course, as a native Belgian).
I also percieve my ability to engage in research as a ‘privelege’. For example I like to analyse data, or to finalyze a paper, for example in our garden in the evening at sun set. It is a kind of passion, and in fact it is not exhausting to me. I call it a kind of addiction, finishing a nice paper draft, hopefully to get published. And at the end, importantly, to have a certain impact in research community and clinical pratice.

6. Who are your most important mentors and how did you find them?
Prof. Dr. Willy De Weerdt: He was my supervisor for my master thesis and was a great inspiration to me back at that time. ‘The sky is the limit’ he always said to me; he is right !
Prof. Dr. Stephan Bohlhalter: I met him 10 years ago at work and he is my closest collaborator and guided me throughout my PhD. He is great!
Prof. Dr. Thomas Nyffeler: He is my direct chief at work and besides Prof. Bohlhalter my closest collaborator. We share many common interests and has given me new inputs paving my way for the future.
Prof. Dr. Gert Kwakkel and Dr. Erwin van Wegen: I had the opportunity the visit them as a postdoctoral research fellow. They have so much experience, are very well connected. We will continue to work together in the future.

7. What are your most important collaborations and how have you built them?

I closley work together with the NIH, Bethesda (Dr. Mark Hallett), with the University of Vienna (Dr. Thomas Foki), Prof. Dr. Jan Mehrholz (SRH Gera, Kreischa) and the University of Amsterdam (Prof. Dr. Gert Kwakkel and Dr. Erwin van Wegen). All of them I met at international congressess.

Seven minutes in stroke - Tim Vanbellingen Reviewed by Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins on Monday, August 29, 2016 Rating: 5

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