Authors: Dr. Luca Mengozzi luca.mengozzi(at)fnkv.cz  and Dr. Laurent Puy LAURENT.PUY(at)HOTMAIL.FR

Edinburgh, the place to be for young stroke fell(ow)as

Edinburgh, a breath-taking city, full of life and splendid architecture, a fascinating place rich of hills, cobbled streets, welcoming pubs and history. Scottish heaven! That’s exactly where we experienced for the first time our stroke winter school. The event took place in St. Leonards Hall, within the Edinburgh First campus, with Arthur’s Seat peak always staring at us.

What is your background Laurent?

I’m a 29 years old French neurologist and I work in the stroke unit at Lille University Hospital. I’ve always been attracted to research, thus I started a full-time Ph.D. program last November. My research focuses on cerebral oedema at the acute phase of intracerebral haemorrhage. How about you Luca?

Hi Laurent, I am a 26 years old Italian cardiology resident and Ph.D. student with an interest in strokes at Královské Vinohrady University Hospital in Prague and the Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague. I focus on the composition of thrombi and the comparative analysis of cardiac and stroke medicine.

What do you think about the organisation Luca?

Organizing an International Stroke School indeed takes a lot of effort and they could not have done a better job. Besides the comforts of the campus and the hotel, we really have to praise Dr. Will Whiteley for the wonderful scheduling of each event, taking place in such an order that would gradually bring each student to an evident final progress. Learning from experienced and excellent researchers as prof. Christensen, prof. van Wijck, Dr. Doubal, prof. Wardlaw and Dr. Sandset does not only happen in the classroom, but moments spent together such as coffee breaks, lunch and dinner are excellent opportunities for networking and exchanging ideas with those women and men that have contributed to improve medicine for all of us in the last few years. Do you want to add something Laurent?

I very much appreciated the work environment, you feel privileged when you enter St. Leonards Hall, a place so majestic. Thanks to the kindness of the organizers I immediately felt at ease and engaged in interactive activities.

Which lecture especially impressed you Laurent?

It’s difficult to answer this question…. all of them! I would give a special mention to Mr. Euan Haig, a naval architect and stroke survivor. He opened my eyes to the fact that our research needs to be driven by what patients think is important. Do you agree Luca?

Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe every lecture was highly educative and resourceful. Though, I would also like to paraphrase Dr. Bart van der Worp’s wise words: even successful researchers can list failures in their career but they never surrendered and used those failures as much as their successes to drive their motivation and interest in making medicine better for everyone.

What was the interactive activity you liked the most Luca?

Who would have thought that coming to the Stroke Winter School could have meant to experience- for the first time ever- SPEED DATING? I am sure you remember it Laurent, since the first one I had to speed-date with was you. Our class was divided in half, the first group was sitting by the table facing outwards and the second group had to rotate around the table. Each student from both halves had to use their own project as a pick-up line and explain it convincingly enough for 2 minutes in front of every new candidate. I don’t know about you, but at the end of this game I could convince anyone thereafter about my project or at least, certainly, I felt more confident about my words.

I am sure you, like me, loved the grant application activity, didn’t you Laurent? Would you want to talk about it?

The development of a research project and the creation of a grant application was the main theme throughout the 3 days. We all played the game and we all did an incredible job thanks to valuable advice of our supervisors who were very close to us and available (I would like to thank Fergus Doubal again here). On the last day our grant applications were submitted to a jury composed of experienced researchers as well as participants. I loved this role-playing game. Besides my own grant application, I had to judge (with kindness) the work of others, appreciate its feasibility and sometimes give some advice to improve it. Judging the work of others has given me a critical look at my own work. It was a rich experience.

It’s not just work but also some fun:

The Winter Stroke School was a great opportunity to meet young researchers from all over the world. Refreshment breaks in St. Leonard’s Foyer for instance were fundamental moments, allowing to create other than professional links between all of us.

Leon, Mercedes, Carmen, Danielle, Jennifer, Jenna, Samia, Miriam, Tuuli, Pawel, Aisling, Mitsuko, Kateriine, Christopher, Christian, Michiel, Valentina, Isabel, Charlotte, Yvonne, Laurent and Luca : 22 participants, lots of awesome encounters – 11 different countries worldwide.

Of course, we will all meet each other again. We have already arranged meeting up in May for the ESOC taking place in Milan and some of us will even cooperate internationally for their projects. Lots of help, lots of fun, lots of education, lots of new friends.

Unfortunately, all great experiences reach a conclusion

The charm of the place, the quality of the supervision and the welcoming atmosphere were all conducive to intellectual growth. We both feel very privileged to have been able to attend such event.

Finally, it took us some beer (just one), some burgers, some talk over international food recipes, chips and fried fish to conclude that StROCKe research is also a group dance: if you work as a team you can change the face of medicine.