Research and innovation

The cornerstones of ‘organised stroke care’: stroke units, TIA (transient ischaemic attack) clinics and early supported discharge services are all underpinned by a high-quality research evidence base. The breadth of evidence – organisation of service, acute care, rehabilitation, long-term support and secondary prevention – is summarised in the National Clinical Guideline for Stroke 2016.

As a specialty, stroke medicine is constantly seeking to evaluate and innovate. Over recent years, research has led to the development of hyperacute stroke units which provide high-quality acute care including thrombolysis. The current challenge is how to organise services to provide thrombectomy for stroke patients with large artery occlusions.

Ongoing national and international stroke research covers basic science, translational, clinical and health services research. The majority of stroke units are actively involved in research as part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN): Stroke. Network support enables stroke units to recruit participants to studies that have been adopted by the NIHR CRN: Stroke. These are often high profile multicentre studies that are addressing important clinical questions for clinicians, patients and researchers. Stroke physicians are keen to involve people who have had a stroke, their carers and clinicians in identifying research questions, designing, delivering and disseminating research.

Training fellowships are available for trainees to undertake stroke research. These include: Stroke Association / MRC Joint Clinical Training Fellowships, Wellcome Fellowships, and NIHR Fellowships. Academics in stroke medicine welcome approaches from junior doctors who are interested in undertaking a period of research leading to an MD or PhD.