Report to ESO for the ESOTA symposium By Prof. Dr. Anita Arsovska, FESO

ESO Trials Alliance Symposium entitled “Building a European research network of networks’ took place on the 15th of May, 2018 from 18:00-21:30.  Peter Kelly, Chair of the ESO Trials Network opened the meeting giving an overview on ESOTA, welcomed the participants and introduced the lecturers, encouraging a fruitful discussion.

Session 1 that was chaired by Rustam Al-Shahi Salman (UK) gave an overview on the current situation. Three known researchers from UK (Gary Ford), Switzerland (Urs Fischer), and the Netherlands (Diederik Dippel) shared their experience on setting up and running a national stroke trials network. They presented the beginnings of their countries networks, how they defined aims, managed challenges and obstacles and how they eventually achieved their goals.  John Marshall (Canada) presented the InFACT Global Trials Alliance and talked about what can stroke learn from Critical Care.

At the end of the Session 1, Peter Kelly summarized the guiding principles of ESOTA, which are: alliance members join as networks, not individuals; joining is voluntary; keep structures simple and feasible – avoid over-ambitious projects; member independence is kept for participation in trials; ESOTA will be owned by the members, not ‘top down’ decision-making. He said that ESOTA should be a European ‘network of networks’ , i.e. an alliance of European stroke research networks to further improve international collaboration in stroke IITs. The aim of ESOTA is to foster research, education, advocacy but not to manage trials.

Session 2 consisted of three active workshops. Robin Lemmens and Urs Fischer lead the workshop: Building new trials networks in ESO countries- what are the key steps?, Paul Nederkorn and Eivind Berge chaired the ESO Trials Alliance-Practical issues and lessons from InFACT and Gary Ford and Blanca Fuentes led the Next Steps to develop ESO Trials Alliance. Christian Weimar and Anita Arsovska summarized the group discussions from the workshops and presentations.

The audience very actively participated in the discussion, they stressed the need to strengthen collaboration, focus on stroke, the need for education, monitoring and find the appropriate funding model. ESOTA could provide mentorship and facilitate the establishing the stroke networks.