FESO Interview with Hanne Christensen

Each month, the PR Committee interviews an ESO Fellow (FESO) to feature in the newsletter.

To qualify as an FESO, members must demonstrate scientific quality and a willingness to actively volunteer in ESO. There are no age requirements, but FESO must meet minimum standards. FESO receive additional benefits, including participation in the Council of Fellows. Visit our website for more information on how to distinguish yourself as a FESO.

We hope you will enjoy getting to know the Fellows who participate in the 2019 interview series and thank them in advance for taking the time to share with our readers. The series began with Alastair Webb, University of Oxford, UK, next we interviewed Anita Arsovska, University Ss Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia. In March we featured Francesco Corea, Stroke and Neurology Units, Ospedale San Giovanni Battista Foligno, Italy.

This month, we get to know Prof. Hanne Christensen, MD, PhD, DMSCi is Professor of Neurology, University of Copenhagen, Stroke Consultant at Bispebjerg & Frederiksberg Hospitals. Hanne is an active FESO, former Chair of the Council of Fellows (2014 – 2018), dedicated member of WISE and speaker at the upcoming WISE workshop at ESOC2019.

What are your main fields of interest in stroke medicine and research?

My research has always been driven by the questions that arose during my clinical work. Why do we do it this way? Could we find something better?

When I entered stroke medicine in the mid-90’ies, stroke units were basically non-existent. Patients with stroke were admitted wherever there was a bed, and a very young ‘neurologist’ like me called on the patient on second day to assess for ‘rehabilitation potential’. At this time most patients already had aspiration pneumonia and only patients below 60 years were admitted to neurology. It reminded me of the description of Hannes dying from typhus in Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann – and not medicine in the 20th century; and I felt we could do better. And certainly we have.

Presently, I work 30% in clinical practice, where I do acute stroke and acute neurology; I do acute stroke call once every other week. Further, my phone is always open. Do not only see specific patients or diagnoses within the field of stroke, but mainly acute work.

Organization and an organizational approach to improving care is very important to me as the number of cases calls for a standardized approach to ensure quality. One result is, that we have kept DTN at 20 minutes since 2013. A close collaboration with our radiologists has also resulted in both expedite pathways to work up in e.g. TIA, easy implementation of the extended reperfusion window, but also development of new clinical MRI protocols responding to our clinical needs e.g. HD for suspected dissection.

Research is very much integrated into our clinical practice and our consultants are very academically minded. Unfortunately, I am not one of those who can manage sticking to one subject, so I am probably spreading out too much. I presently lead protocols in subjects including ICH, cognitive rehabilitation, OAC-related ICH, anti-platelet related ICH, and comparison of CT and MRI in hyperacute stroke.


What is the role of ESO in promoting stroke medicine from your perspective?

ESO is the voice of stroke in Europe and has a very strong role in promoting stroke medicine through evidence-based guidelines, education including the ESOC, the ESO Stroke Summer School and winter schools, and as well by advocating stroke awareness and best stroke care through initiatives such as ESO East and the Action Plan for Stroke in Europe.


What do you expect from ESO in the future to support research?

ESO already greatly supports stroke research through the ESOC as well as through European Stroke Journal. Further, stroke research is an important part of the Action Plan. By continued focus on high quality and the needs of patients, ESO promotes useful research.

The surprisingly different regulations of drug trials and of patient consents remain a challenge for acute trials, ESO might have a future role in working for more harmonization in this field.


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 if possible also be a sponsor, should create opportunities, give support and feed-back. The mentee should expect that the mentor has sufficient time to do a proper job, as well as loyalty. The mentor should be an honest friend, both in good times and when things are not going well.