Friday, May 27, 2016

Seven minutes in stroke - Stella Bouziana

What inspired you towards neuroscience?
Neuroscience is a fascinating field and is included among the top scientific areas of research. ╬Łeurodegenerative diseases are increasing and the latest scientific advances are a source of thrill and inspiration. I found neuroscience really attractive from the very early years in the Medical School and I wanted to serve this evolving groundbreaking field.

 Why stroke?
A truly exciting combination of medical fields are involved in stroke pathophysiology and dealing with stroke patients: Neurology, Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, which are all in my interests. I believe that this combination boosts stroke science to an unprecedented amazing scientific area. In addition, stroke combines emergent incidents with a long palliative care, which both aspects of clinical care are really interesting to me. Taking also into consideration that the brain and cognition are the features that distinguish man from the animal kingdom, exploring brain function through stroke cannot leave anyone who loves neuroscience unmoved.

What have been the highs so far?
Starting my PhD studies in stroke science, publishing my work in prestigious journals, participating as a speaker in European Congresses, teaching of medical students, namely becoming a young member of the large community of stroke scientists fills me with a lot of gratification. Moreover, offering physical and mental comfort in chronic debilitating patients, such as stroke patients, is a priceless daily reward; definitely a source of happiness.

What have been the lows?
Too many hours of extra work has limited my leisure time for both myself and my beloved ones. Moreover, compassion is not always enough for your patient. Cure is demanded and you cannot always provide it.

How do you balance work life with the needs of home life?
With a huge amount of patience and understanding of my family! I try to spend quality time with those who I care. I also try every once in a while to do some sports as I was a former 100 metres sprinter. It really helps me to relax from work and devote myself to my family.

Who are your most important mentors and how did you find them?
Assistant Professor Dr Konstantinos Tzionalos, MD, PhD (AHEPA University Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece) is the most important mentor in my short scientific career. Dr Tziomalos with a specialty in cardiovascular diseases and stroke was one of my professors in Internal Medicine during my studies in the Medical School. His hard work and passion for Medicine truly inspired me towards his medical field. Despite his young age he has a meritorious work to present and I am glad that I am part of his team since shortly after my graduation from the Medical School. Dr Tziomalos, a really talented clinician, is one of the three-member committee of my PhD studies and our excellent collaboration has grown me as a researcher. He is the first who believed and recognized my potentials as a clinician and a researcher and gave me the opportunity to develop my skills. I am really lucky and grateful for this collaboration!

What are your most important collaborations and how have you built them?It is quite difficult to answer this question as I am in the very start of my scientific career. However, I am tremendously privileged to have met in person the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Medicine Sir John Gurdon for his contribution to the field of cell reprogramming. Through my involvement with stroke research I was selected to participate in the Biology and Medicine Seminar Lectures for young scientists held by the Bodossakis Foundation in 2012 where Sir John Gurdon was an invited speaker. I had the opportunity to discuss with him about my scientific work and interests and get his valuable advice. Definitely not a collaboration but the best is yet to come!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Seven minutes in stroke - Nadine Andrew

1. What inspired you towards neuroscience?
I was drawn to the complexity of neuroscience as complex problems require complex whole of system solutions. Maximising the use of routinely collected stroke data has great potential to change health systems, improve the quality of care received by those with stroke and improve patient outcomes. As a clinician and epidemiologist I felt that this was an area that I could contribute to in a positive way.

2. Why stroke?
From a personal perspective both of my grandmothers died from stroke. My paternal grandmother died at a young age and although I did not have an opportunity to know her the loss was greatly felt by my father and his siblings. I also spent many years working as a physiotherapist in community health. My experience working in this sector and later as a researcher coordinating a large National needs survey, highlighted that it is very difficult for survivors of stroke to access the services that they need. This is something that I hope to be able to address through my research.

3. What have been the highs so far?
Achieving national data linkage between the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry and hospital and death data between 10 different datasets from 5 different jurisdictions. This was a logistical and administrative challenge but means that we now have the largest and most comprehensive stroke dataset in Australia. We will be able to use these data to obtain a detailed view of the patient journey following stroke, identify important care gaps and investigate how the type of care received by patients impacts on long-term outcomes.

4. What have been the lows?
Working in research is incredibly competitive. It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain funding to progress research. As a consequence many great ideas go unrealised.

5. How do you balance work life with the needs of home life?
I have a magnificent family who are supportive of my career and see value in what I do. I get great enjoyment from my work which makes the integration between work and home easy.

6. Who are your most important mentors and how did you find them?
I started working with A/Prof Dominique Cadilhac four years ago. She has incredible vision and an ability to translate this vision into reality. Her ability to network across health services, research institutions and engage with governments is inspirational.

7. What are your most important collaborations and how have you built them?
The stroke research community in Australia is very collaborative. My work with the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry has enabled me to develop valuable collaborations with researchers, academics and clinicians involved in the registry, staff from the National Stroke Foundation and data linkage experts from across Australia.

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