Research as a path towards a healthy brain and mind

MUDr. Rastislav Šumec, Ph.D., is a vice-head of the Department of Psychology and Psychosomatics of the Medical Faculty of Masaryk University in Brno, a postdoctoral researcher in the Dementia research team of the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC) and a doctor of the Cognitive Outpatient Clinic of the 1st Department of Neurology FNUSA and MF MU.
Above all, however, he is a nice young man who recently managed to succesfully gain the attestation of competence in neurology, and on this occasion we asked him a few questions.

1. What led you to the research, was it a child’s wish or something else?
I’ve always been interested in unanswered questions about the human brain and mind. I was interested in how our knowledge in this field could be used to improve the quality of life and health in general. At the research itself, I was fascinated by how it systematically, persistently and with less bias brings us closer to the truth about reality.

2. As part of your research at FNUSA-ICRC, you were on an internship at Bangor University in Wales, what did it give you?
The benefits such as establishing foreign cooperation, the opportunity to see and participate in the day-to-day running of a foreign research institution, or a healthy change in the environment and work stereotypes can certainly not be overlooked. However, the most important benefit for me was the acquisition of key knowledge from neuroscience and psychological research, which I could then meaningfully use in our research team in Brno. Thanks to the internship, for the first time I was not only inspired by research, but I was also able to bring inspiration for research in the Czech Republic. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the kind approach of my colleagues in Wales, who paid a lot of attention to me, for which I thank them very much.

3. When you compare the position of researcher and doctor – how are they similar and how are they different?
I think that both these professions should be motivated by a sincere intention to improve the quality of life. Whether at the level of the individual or on a society-wide scale. At the same time, both are so unpredictable that they force a person to be able to step out of his ego and not be seduced by the idea that we are infallible due to previous experience. At the same time, both involve an enormous amount of administration. 🙂
The main difference I see is that in clinical practice, one looks into the eyes of someone whom is helping, while the researcher works in far greater uncertainty and anonymity. He does not know whether his work will be beneficial for the world and what specific form this benefit will take. Unlike a doctor, he moves in a very exciting field of exploration, where he discovers the unknown, but on the other hand he has to accept that paths that no one has yet set out are rarely “user-friendly”.

4. Congratulations on a successful attestation. What are your plans for the future?
Thank you! My plans are research, clinical and academic. At FNUSA-ICRC, I will focus on neurodegenerative diseases and the search for new ways to alleviate their symptoms. As part of my clinical practice, I will prescribe in the Cognitive Outpatient Clinic of the 1st Department of Neurology FNUSA and MF MU. And at the Department of Psychology and Psychosomatics at the Faculty of Medicine, MU, within the Mindfulness Research and Practice Network of Masaryk University, I will address the question of how we can use our own exploration of the mind to work and study in a more balanced and present way, with integrity.