Seven minutes in stroke - Sara Mazzucco

Seven minutes in stroke

1.     What inspired you towards neuroscience?

The mystery of the brain! In the late 90s, as a medical student in my pre-clinical years, I was fascinated by how little we knew about how the brain works. There was so much to discover. When I went on to my clinical training and started seeing patients, I was struck by how different, and special, neurological patients were. I had the feeling that some diseases affecting the brain had the power to build a wall of incommunicability and estrangement between the affected patient and the rest of the world. I wanted to understand what that wall was, and I wanted to be able to knock it down.

1.     Why stroke?

I have always been interested in blood circulation, and of course cerebral circulation is even more fascinating as it is different from the rest of the body. The brain is special even in the way it regulates its own perfusion. From a clinical point of view, cerebrovascular diseases are largely preventable and treatable, and I still feel the enthusiasm of being able to make a difference for each individual patient, helping to prevent strokes or offering acute-phase treatments.  

2.     What have been the highs so far?

Finding a non-invasive tool that allows me a glimpse into cerebral haemodynamics, using ultrasound. This tool is called “Neurosonology”. I discovered it in the late 90s and since then I have started from scratch a neurosonology lab first in Italy (in Verona, where I worked for over 10 years) and now in Oxford, UK.

3.     What have been the lows?

When I started my training, I felt very frustrated by the nihilistic attitude of some colleagues towards strokes patients, especially when compared with the enthusiasm for acute coronary reperfusion and endovascular treatments. Nearly twenty years later, we are finally getting there!

4.     How do you balance work life with the needs of home life?

Working hard on both sides, and having great colleagues and a very understanding and helpful family.  

5.     Who are your most important mentors and how did you find them?

I am indebted to many generous and clever people, whom I was lucky enough to meet in my professional life.  Among them, the neuroscientist who lead me through the fascination of Neurology was Nicolo’ Rizzuto, head of Neurosciences in Verona University Hospital when I was a medical student and a young doctor, who nurtured and encouraged my interest for stroke and Neurosonology. He also introduced me to Gian Paolo Anzola, who taught me so much, and has always supported me with his advice and practical help.  Peter Rothwell, whom I met during my PhD in Neurosciences when he was just starting the Oxford Vascular study, has always been a guide and reference for me in understanding and treating cerebrovascular diseases. I have moved from Italy to Oxford to be able to work with him, and he is a continuous source of inspiration. And lastly, my father, who is a cardiac surgeon and an academic, to whom I have always turned in my professional life when in doubt, and from whom I suspect I have inherited my interest in haemodynamics.

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

I have always worked with cardiologists, radiologists and vascular surgeons. More recently, I have developed an interest in paediatric stroke and Sickle Cell Disease, and new collaborations with Paediatric haematologists have started. My research has always been very clinically oriented, and collaborations in research have always grown around clinical questions.

Seven minutes in stroke - Sara Mazzucco Reviewed by Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 Rating: 5

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