Research is a cornerstone of modern clinical practice. The introduction of evidence-based medicine, now more than 20 years ago, is dependent upon the provision of levels of evidence, which are almost completely research based. In many ways, research is the driver of change in clinical practice, given that clinicians are constantly looking for ways to improve outcomes and scientists generally strive to provide evidence for the basis of disease processes and new therapies.
In this edition we have, for the first time devoted the entre volume to research based articles as a celebration of the importance of research in stroke clinical practice.
Having spent my entire career as both a clinician and a researcher I often reflect upon what leads individuals to follow this career path. From my own experience, and listening to the experience of many others, one of the most common themes is exposure to an inspirational teacher and or mentor early in ones career. This coupled with the importance of an inquisitive mind, and an element of luck in navigating the vicissitudes of an academic career pathway may result in the end product, the clinician researcher.
Unfortunately, in many countries the clinician researcher is becoming an endangered species, with time available to conduct research minimized by increasing demands placed on clinicians by budgetary constrained administrators in both universities and hospitals. This leads to more face-to-face time with heavy teaching and clinical loads. The perfect storm is being met by static or reducing research budgets in many parts of the globe suffering as a result of the ongoing economic slowdown. How can this be addressed? A number of countries, including the UK, and Australia, are either arranging for protected or ‘ringed fence’ monies to be carved out of health budgets for research as well as the establishment of so called academic research centers. The latter provides a vertically integrated system of translational research, whereby high quality research is closely integrated with clinical practice. These initiatives are not the complete answer but are a step in the right direction. More needs to be done!