The national research stroke network STROCZECH celebrated its 1st birthday

… and it has awarded 20 stroke centers, 11 study nurses and coordinators and 5 academic studies.

More than 8 years ago, we started working on the idea of ​​creating a research network of clinical workplaces for the implementation of joint projects in the field of stroke. 4 years ago, we started trying to raise funds, and when we succeeded in cooperation with the CZECRIN research infrastructure, we were finally able to start building the network from last year. Today, after one year of solution, we can celebrate the first fruits of our efforts. To the network, which is initiated and led by prof. Robert Mikulík, head of the FNUSA-ICRC Cerebrovascular Research Program, involved 20 stroke centers, created a network of study coordinators and nurses at the participating hospitals, and began work on five academic studies. This with the support of the parent platform, the CZECRIN research infrastructure.

The idea of ​​the newly established STROCZECH network is to connect a well-functioning network of clinical stroke workplaces, which have patients, physicians and knowledge in the field of stroke research and care, with the CZECRIN research infrastructure, which brings know-how for academic clinical studies in the Czech Republic. The aim of the STROCZECH network is to raise the research of cerebrovascular diseases in the Czech Republic to the highest possible level with the possibility of conducting randomized clinical trials. At the same time, the National Research Stroke Network has become a model for other Disease Oriented Networks, which will continue to emerge within the CZECRIN research infrastructure (eg epilepsy or mental health).

To the STROCZECH network, which is coordinated by the Cerebrovascular Research Team of the St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno, the following hospitals also participated: University Hospital Brno, Hospital Jihlava, Hospital České Budějovice, Hospital Písek, General University Hospital in Prague, Military University Hospital, Hospital Na Homolce, University Hospital in Motol, Thomayer University Hospital, University Hospital Královské Vinohrady, Regional Hospital Liberec, University Hospital Hradec Králové, Hospital Pardubice, Hospital Vyškov, University Hospital Olomouc, Tomas Bata´s Regional Hospital Zlín, Hospital Karviná, University Hospital Ostrava and Hospital Vítkovice.

Last year, the scientific council of the network was established, which consists of elected members of the Committee of the Cerebrovascular Section of the Czech Neurological Society of the Czech Medical Association JEP. It includes 13 experts in the field of stroke in the Czech Republic and also representatives of Czech stroke centers. The members of the Scientific Council prepare research protocols and plan the implementation of national academic studies as well as participation in international studies. However, ideas for scientific projects implemented within the network may also be submitted by other researchers, not only members of the Scientific Council.

The STROCZECH network has also become a member of the global alliance of stroke networks GAINS. Thanks to this, STROCZECH will have the opportunity to participate in international academic studies and also access to new knowledge.

However, not all centers of the network have been activated yet, for some partners we are in the contracting phase and in the phase of recruiting other research nurses. In particular, the legislative processes were a challenging point in the creation of the network, as was the pandemic, which, of course, paralyzed the network. So we still have a long way to go before we carry out our own multicenter academic studies throughout our network.

How do we prepare a generation of research coordinators and study nurses?

Last year, we also organized a workshop for research nurses and coordinators of our STROCZECH network. The two-day fully-fledged program was designed to present the workload of research nurses and their contribution to clinical research and patients, as well as the planned first academic clinical trials within the network.
The workshop program also involved experts from the CZECRIN research infrastructure, who presented work in the preparatory, evaluation and monitoring phases of clinical trials, ie start-up, project management, monitoring, pharmacovigilance, data management and statistics.
One of the blocks of the workshop was focused on increasing knowledge about strokes and the latest trends in their treatment. In the simulation center, participants could try out how to inform the patient together with the doctor about his possibility to participate in the clinical study and how to communicate with different types of patients. Professor Mikulík and MUDr. Ondřej Volný contributed their invaluable personal experience.

And how did our study nurses and coordinators like the workshop?

“Clinical trials are a completely new area for me, so the meeting was extremely interesting and beneficial for me from start to finish. I was most interested in the lecture on monitoring clinical trials and also the opportunity to participate in educational projects such as the HOBIT program implemented by the Cerebrovascular Research Team, “says Pavla, a research nurse from Liberec.

“I was most impressed by the interactive training room, where we tried to get informed consent from the patient using a simulated situation, and I appreciated the great acting performance of all members of the simulation team,” says David, a medical brother from Písek.

Kristýna, a research nurse for Prague hospitals, summed up the event as follows: “The workshop was fully loaded with information. I will draw from it on a daily basis in my research work. I consider the most useful information about the individual phases of the preparation of a clinical trial, about communication with regulatory authorities and about the monitoring of studies. ”

We wish our network in the coming years to grow with new projects and other enthusiastic members and to gain in its importance, because its results will be beneficial both for the hospitals themselves and especially for patients.

Veronika Svobodová, Martina Sittová and Kristýna Znamenáčková
for the STROCZECH research network
Cerebrovascular research program FNUSA-ICRC