During the Young Stroke Physicians and Researchers (YSPR) session at ESOC 2024, four early career stroke physicians and researchers will present their planned or ongoing projects and receive feedback from two renowned stroke experts.

Session ID SC2 is open to all and will take place on Wednesday, 15 May, 08:30 – 10:00 CEST, in Room Singapore.

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

Today we introduce Alexandra Rodrigues.

Alexandra is a neuroradiology resident based in Lisbon and Funchal, Portugal. She is affiliated with NOVA Medical School.

The title of her presentation is Development of a Multivariable Prediction Model for Relevant Intracranial Hemorrhage Following Endovascular Treatment in Posterior Circulation Stroke.

Can you tell us something about yourself?

Art and science are probably what describe me best, making neuroradiology an obvious choice since it combines neuroscience with imaging. I love to explore new places, immerse in different cultures and try food. Music and introspection echo is my routine.

How did you get involved in stroke research? Why did you choose this topic?

Stroke offers a unique window into the brain; particularly how certain functions can be selectively shut down and yet may recover in surprising ways. I am especially interested in artificial intelligence and advanced MRI techniques. The development of a predictive algorithm was prompted by our hospital needs, which is a high-volume stroke center (around 500 mechanical thrombectomies for acute ischemic stroke per year). Hemorrhagic transformation (HT) in posterior circulation stroke is one of the most severe consequences of reperfusion therapies. Still, the debate continues on the best approach to treat these patients. Our goal is to enhance our understanding of HT following successful thrombectomy, with or without intravenous thrombolysis, by exploring the associated risk factors. Additionally, we aim to develop an algorithm to stratify the risk of HT, aiding the stroke team in the management of patients who undergo these procedures.

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

Time. It is challenging to meet all the demands of residency, including shifts, studying, staying up-to-date, completing courses, attending conferences, and finding time for research. I believe there should be space for the creativity to flourish. Additionally, especially in the neuroradiology setting, access to software and equipment isn’t always straightforward, sometimes even impossible.

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

The Portuguese national health system is facing tough times, and I agree that sometimes it is hard for me to interrupt the rhythm when the demand is high. I try to allocate specific time to my family, friends and to Amélia, my dog, all of whom I value the most. Regarding personal time, the most sacred rule I have is to get enough sleep. Yoga and dancing are good ways to relax. Travelling is the best way to disconnect.

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?

I am grateful to be surrounded by inspiring women, who lead me in every way. Besides a mentor who provides references and tools, I value their expertise in soft skills, which are difficult to learn on google. I count on them to first identify my mistakes and direct me towards improvement. As a mentee I try to be reliable in the first place, and second, I work to be consistent. Communication is the most important aspect in the relationship.