This time we would like to introduce young student, soon to be neurologist, Julia Kent who was awarded the Dean Award for Excellent Scientific Work for her paper: The decline in stroke hospitalization due to COVID-19 is unrelated to COVID-19 intensity, published in European Journal of Neurology (IF 6.28). Julia was mentored by prof. Mikulík and Dr. Šedová and her paper describes the influence of COVID 19 on both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke incidence.
Julia, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Where do you come from and where do you study?
I am currently in the 5th year of my studies the Faculty of Medicine of the Masaryk University in Brno. I originally come from Germany, but I spent half of my life in Munich and the other half in Prague. I decided to go to Brno to study because of the offer to participate in research within the P-PooL faculty program, which integrates students of the Faculty of Medicine into research right from the beginning of their studies.
Regarding your recent award I bet it paid off. How did you come across neuroepidemiology and choose this specific field for research?
I joined Professor Mikulík's research team during an internship organized by the ICRC Academy, where I was first assigned to the Public Health group. After the internship, I had the opportunity to participate in neuroepidemiological research focused on the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was very grateful for this opportunity, because I felt that after the start of the pandemic, it was not possible to conduct clinical research as before, mainly due to the limitation of contact with patients. In this way, however, I got the opportunity to be part of a research project and at the same time work on a topic that was current and important.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic was a real gamechanger in every field. How did it affect you and your work? And since it was also the topic for your paper, what were your findings and what let you to them?
In our paper, we focused on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospitalization, recanalization therapy and the quality of acute care in patients with cerebrovascular accident in the Czech Republic. The strength of our study is that we used national data and that we assessed the entire year of the pandemic from March 2020 to February 2021. Ultimately, our study showed that in all covid waves there was a decrease in stroke hospitalizations compared to the pre-pandemic period, regardless of the incidence of COVID-19. Furthermore, we found that while the absolute number of recanalization procedures decreased during the pandemic, the relative number of ischemic stroke patients who underwent these procedures remained the same. Recanalization times as indicators of the quality of acute care were comparable to the pre-pandemic period.
And how would you describe your research in Stroke Research Program led by prof Mikulik? What did it bring you?
I am very happy that I can be part of Professor Mikulík's research team. Since the beginning of my work on this study, I have been working closely with Dr. Šedová, and I feel that both she and professor Mikulík really try to involve me in research activities and give me the opportunity to advance my knowledge and skills. In my opinion, research work is always a team effort and I am very grateful for this great team.
Sounds really great. Will you keep doing research or what are your plans for the future?
I knew from the beginning of my studies that one day I wanted to push ahead neurology, and now that I'm almost at the end of my studies, I still have the same goal in mind. For me, research is an inseparable part of the medical profession, so I would like to devote myself to neurological research in the future as well.