During the Young Stroke Physicians and Researchers (YSPR) session at ESOC 2022 in Lyon, four early career stroke physicians and researchers will present their planned or ongoing projects and receive feedback from two renowned stroke experts, Prof. Kennedy Lees and Prof. Martin Dichgans.

The session is open to all and will take place place on Wednesday, 4 May at 08.30 in Salon Pasteur and will be avaliable to watch on demand via the ESOC platform.

In this series of interviews, we are going to meet the early career physicians and researchers who have been selected to present their research and learn more about them.

Today we introduce Dr Ivy Sebastian.

Dr. Sebastian is a Neurologist from India, currently working at St. Stephen’s Hospital, New Delhi.

Tell us something about yourself.

I am a fellow of the inaugural cohort of the World Stroke Organisation’s Future Stroke Leaders program. My entire medical training has been from Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, India where after my Bachelors, and MD in Internal Medicine, I went on to specialise in Neurology. My chief area of interest is Stroke, and as a young clinical researcher, I aspire to find ways where low-cost or no-cost interventions specific to resource poor countries can be designed for improving stroke care.

How did you get involved in stroke research?

My first exposure to a large clinical trial was as a senior registrar in Neurology, when I had the privilege of being involved with the ATTEND trial. This was a turning point in my life, and being part of it, revealed to me the importance of conducting a good quality research trial and the impact it can have. Thereafter, training in a comprehensive stroke centre under the mentorship of Dr Jeyaraj Pandian, further instilled in me a passion for clinical stroke research. This began the journey of my stroke research with many collaborations towards improving systems of stroke care especially in LMICs.

What have been the most difficult challenges regarding your research career so far?

I have been quite fortunate with regards to the opportunities that have come my way. However, one of the main challenges to conducting research in India, is the lack of a dedicated research time in our work culture. Juggling clinical work, academics and research together with no distinct boundaries can be very demanding. The poor funding support for young researchers in the country is another severe lacunae, and without good collaboration it is difficult to receive international funding.

Why did you choose this topic?

The most challenging aspect of stroke research in LMICs is to find effective means to provide an equal and uniform modicum of care for all patients. However in LMICs such as India, where the number of available specialist neurologists is discrepantly low to the existing population, it becomes imperative that we search for alternative models of stroke care such as task sharing with non-specialists. Empowering physicians and nurses to deliver evidence based stroke care, is a potential cost-effective and feasible model of stroke care, which if implemented successfully can help improve delivery of quality stroke care.

How do you balance work life and free time / home life?

I believe it is necessary to remain open to redirecting and assessing your priorities each day, and adapting accordingly. At present, I try to ensure that my evenings are reserved for my family, however times when I have to travel or anticipate busy evenings, I try to plan ahead and prioritise. Although there may be no ‘perfect’ work-life balance, having an extremely supportive and encouraging family has definitely helped.

What do you think a mentor should do to support the projects and the career of a mentee and, conversely, what should a mentee expect from a mentor?

A mentor should be there to guide the mentee towards unique opportunities, develop collaborations, provide constructive criticism for studies, and also offer experienced advice when things don’t go your way. In return, a mentee should also be dedicated and goal-oriented towards the collaborations and projects. While every mentor-mentee relationship is unique in its own qualities, the basis to a successful rapport depends upon maintaining a free channel of communication and discussion.