Authors: Giuseppe Reale (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy), Peter Vanacker (University Hospital Antwerp, Belgium)

If you did not know, Bern is famous for the UNESCO-recognized medieval center, the bears, the Zytglogge, Einstein, the Aare river and –obviously– the high-quality stroke comprehensive center of the Bernese Inselspital. While you are reading, inside the Neurocentrum several MRIs (more than the Bern bears in the riverside park) work incessantly 24h per day, 7 days per week, helping stroke physicians to choose the best treatment for patients with acute ischemic stroke. This is why, the last week of January, a group of 67 physicians – vascular neurologists and neurointerventionalists – participated to the 6th ESO-ESMINT-ESNR Stroke Winter School, organized by the local organizing committee of Prof. Urs Fischer, Prof. Jan Gralla, Dr. Pasquale Mordasini and Dr. Simon Jung. The aim of the course was to give a comprehensive overview of the interdisciplinary management of acute stroke, from diagnosis to revascularization, from risk factors to secondary prevention.

If you did not know, putting together neurologists and neurointerventionists in a 4 days intensive course is a perilous powder keg. In fact, in daily clinical practice it is normal to see physicians arguing, firing references against each other, when debating on the best treatment for patients with ischemic stroke: just imagine what could happen when speaking theoretically during 10-hours sessions. However, thanks to the organizers, a miracle happened and, although the situation was potentially hazardous, all went very well. In fact, the lecture topics were well balanced, satisfying both neurointerventionists and neurologists, and the post-lecture discussions were well moderated by the respective chairs. All participants received a precious update on the state of the art of thrombolysis and mechanical thrombectomy, on primary and secondary prevention, on special stroke populations, on stroke network organization and so on.

The most important thing is that discussions about hot topics took place not only in the lecture hall, but went on during coffee break, lunch and dinner. All participants were extremely curious and motivated to share ideas and comments with their peers from different countries all over Europe. Everyone went back with a lot of new inspiring ideas to improve their local/national stroke organization within their own networks. The socialization moments – dinners, transports, breaks – became a sort of parallel course, during which networks and friendships were built. Putting all this together, the Winter School was a unique experience and we would recommend it to future colleagues who want to get a deep insight into stroke management.

If you did not know, to many stroke physicians, Bern will remain famous for the ESO-ESMINT-ESNR Stroke Winter School. We highly encourage young, motivated stroke neurologists to look for a teammate for next year and apply for the 7th edition.