Professor Gillian Mead- President Elect, British Association of Stroke Physicians (2019 to 2021)

Professor Gillian Mead MA MB BChir MD MRCP FRCP (Edin) FESO.

I am Professor of Stroke and Elderly Care Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Consultant stroke physician and geriatrician in NHS Lothian (link to professional website https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/professor-gillian-mead). I lead a programme of research aimed at improving ‘life after stroke’. I am particularly interested in how to manage ‘hidden’ problems such as fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression. I also care for stroke survivors after discharge from hospital. I supervise undergraduate students, PhD students and clinical fellows. I am passionate about evidence based stroke care across the entire stroke pathway and I co-lead Cochrane Stroke (link to website https://stroke.cochrane.org/).

I am committed to BASP’s vision to provide leadership in the improvement of clinical services, research, education and training, and to the delivery of the current BASP strategy, and updating it for 2021 to 2024.


Stroke and Me

My interest in the brain started whilst I was an undergraduate at Cambridge University, where I was taught neuroanatomy by the late Dr Gordon Wright, Fellow of Clare College. After jobs in Cambridge, Norwich, London, Birmingham, I moved to Wirral, and with Dr Chris Turnbull, consultant geriatrician, I published a survey about the views of older patients and relatives about cardiopulmonary resuscitation. I realised the crucial importance of research in improving care, and so I spent the next two years in Manchester as Stroke Research Fellow, supervised by Professor Paul O’Neill, a geriatrician, and Professor Charles McCollum, a vascular surgeon. We established a trial of carotid surgery in acute stroke, recruiting patients from all over Manchester. After completing my MD, I moved to Edinburgh, so that I could continue with my dual passions of stroke research and mountaineering.

After achieving my CCST in geriatric and general medicine, I spent six months working in Auckland, New Zealand, with Professor Craig Anderson.  I helped to write the business plan for a stroke unit at Middlemore Hospital and I have continued to collaborate with Craig since then.

I returned to Edinburgh in 2000 as Senior Lecturer and Consultant Geriatrician at Royal Infirmary, to work with Professor Archie Young, the then Professor of Geriatric Medicine.  We started to explore the changes in physical fitness that occur after acute stroke. We demonstrated that physical fitness training after stroke improved outcomes, and this work led to the development of Exercise after Stroke services throughout the UK, analogous to those that already exist as part of the cardiac rehabilitation pathway. These services need a properly trained workforce of exercise professionals, and so with Professor Frederike van Wijck and Dr Susie Dinan-Young, I established the first UK training course for exercise professionals on stroke.

My portfolio of research has since expanded to include a range of post-stroke problems including fatigue, anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment and pain; end of life care, and shared decision making in severe stroke. This research, by its nature, requires collaboration with professional colleagues from a range of specialties and disciplines, and crucially, with stroke survivors and their carers.

My clinical work has, for many years, included both acute stroke care and rehabilitation. More  recently, I set up a ‘life after stroke’ clinic. I am acutely aware of the challenges of implementing new evidence (especially thrombectomy) in already busy stroke services, and the need to ensure that we have sufficient workforce to deliver world-class stroke care in the UK.

Having previously been a member of the BASP Scientific Committee and then Ordinary member for Scotland, I am delighted to return to the BASP Executive as President Elect. I will work tirelessly to deliver the BASP strategy in collaboration with all other relevant stakeholders.