Dr Jenny Han receives 2019 SSA conference award

Jenny Han
Dr Jenny Han receiving the award

Congratulations to Dr Jenny Han, Stroke Fellow from Monash Neurology, who has received the Peter Bladin New Investigator Award at the recent Stroke Society of Australasia Annual Scientific Meeting.

The Peter Bladin New Investigator Award is given to the most outstanding presentation by a new investigator in a nationally recognised research platform; with the winner receiving $1k and a travel grant of up to $3k to attend the European Stroke Conference in 2020.

Dr Han presented her research on the trajectory of recovery after a stroke involving large artery occlusion in the brain. Dr Han’s work compared the difference in recovery within the first week, using only clot dissolving drugs, or a combination of these drugs with manual clot retrieval. The research was undertaken using the novel technique of computerised simulation, which involves replicating patient results from major trials.

The first week of recovery in stroke patients is particularly important as the onset of neuroplasticity – changes to the brain – usually occur at 2-3 weeks. Dr Han found that rapid improvement from intervention took place at 24 hours, and by trying to determine the point at which recovery plateaus, helped to uncover the underlying mechanisms and target therapies, such as stem cells, to continue or enhance the recovery process.

Just under half of the patients who received clot retrieval with dissolving drugs could return home independently, compared to one in four patients with just clot dissolving drugs. These numbers could potentially be improved in all stroke patients by identifying the difference in recovery between treatments, and determining what influences these recovery rates.

Dr Han says that on the other hand, by looking at factors that influence poorer outcomes, it will allow us to reduce death and disability rates by targeting patients who will benefit, and provide insight into why some do not.

Australians have more than a 20 percent lifetime risk of stroke at a cost of $54 billion per annum to our health system. There are 500,000 stroke survivors in Australia who, through key research, could have an improved long-term outlook and quality of life.

Dr Han says that she could not have achieved such an honour without the support of Professor Thanh Phan, Professor Henry Ma, Monash University, and Monash Health.

“Monash provides the perfect foundation for beginners with brilliant mentors at hand, and I encourage our staff to find their hidden talents to change the future of medicine.”