by Costanza M. Rapillo, Florence, Italy
First, I would like to thank the EAN for such a great opportunity. Without their support, my project could have never been accomplished!
I lived in Lausanne from September 2022 until February 2023 for the duration of my EAN Research Fellowship at Lausanne University Hospital – CHUV, in the Stroke Team directed by Professor Patrik Michel.
Our research project was born from the idea of Prof. Michel and Dr Davide Strambo to analyse the transition from CT to MRI in acute ischaemic stroke. In fact, in 2017 the hospital decided to install a new MRI machine within the emergency department, which became operational in May 2018. Since then, the hospital protocol for the assessment of acute ischaemic stroke was updated and MRI became the first-line imaging modality for all suspected ischaemic strokes. This epochal change provided us the opportunity to document the transition between the two imaging modalities and to directly compare CT and MRI within the same stroke centre. The project was retrospectively conducted on the comprehensive hospital stroke registry which collects data about the consecutive acute ischaemic stroke patients admitted to the hospital since 2003. I collaborated on data management, statistical plan project and results elaboration, working together with Prof. Michel and Dr Strambo several hours per week, leading to manuscript writing that is now ongoing.
In January I had the opportunity to present my work at the Swiss Stroke Conference in Neuchatel during the poster session and to the neurology colleagues during one of the weekly internal meetings in CHUV. Moreover, the field of research is very active within the CHUV Stroke Team. I was able to complete two other clinical studies in addition to my main project and to build a network with the involved colleagues from other countries.
Beyond the research work, this fellowship has also provided me with new skills to face clinical problems with improved background in stroke neurology, which continues to be my passion. During the fellowship, my work was organised in a way that I could combine both clinical learning and research activities. At CHUV there are several weekly collegial meetings in which complex cases are discussed together with the physicians from nearby hospitals and other stroke units, the neuroradiology interventional team and the cardiologists. These meetings particularly were very useful.
This was my first full-immersion research experience, and I am grateful to the CHUV Stroke Team (Prof. Michel, Dr Strambo, Dr Salerno, Dr Sirimarco and Dr Palazzo) for the inspiration they gave me and for showing me an excellent scientific method and different strategies to develop new projects and ideas. Meeting colleagues so passionate about neurology encouraged me to grow both as a stroke researcher and a clinician, and to build strong scientific teams which are necessary to work at the best.
I highly encourage my colleagues to apply for the EAN’s international programmes: you could be the next – very lucky – one!