Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. Our research spans the translational pipeline from basic experimental biology and trials of healthcare interventions through to implementing findings into practice.
We focus on understanding mechanisms of neuroimmune and vascular dysfunction, how they contribute to acute cerebrovascular diseases, and the impact of these conditions.
We carry forward this knowledge to improve the process and outcomes of care and, ultimately, the quality of life for stroke survivors and their carers.
Our research is unique in combining life sciences, interdisciplinary clinical research and implementation science.
We cover all clinical subtypes of stroke (ischaemic and haemorrhagic) and include all stages of clinical care (hyperacute through to community) for people with stroke. We also have strong links to the Manchester Centre for Clinical Neurosciences.
Areas of research activity
This interdisciplinary approach is underpinned by active patient, carer and public involvement and engagement.
Our research activity can be grouped into four categories:
- Mechanisms of inflammation and how neurovascular dysfunction and inflammation contribute to cerebrovascular disease.
Principal investigators: Stuart Allan, David Brough, Emmanuel Pinteaux, Catherine Lawrence, Craig Smith, Nancy Rothwell, Kostas Kostarelos, Dr Ingo Schiessl
- Understanding how comorbidity contributes to and impacts brain disease.
Principal investigators: Stuart Allan, David Brough, Emmanuel Pinteaux, Catherine Lawrence, Herve Boutin, Dr Ingo Schiessl
- Mouth hygiene, dysphagia and infections
Principal investigators: Craig Smith, Audrey Bowen, Shaheen Hamdy
- Communication difficulties after stroke(aphasia)
Principal investigators: Anna Woollams
- Cognitive and communication difficulties after stroke, e.g. unilateral spatial neglect, aphasia, pre-existing cognitive difficulties
Principal investigators: Emma Patchwood, Audrey Bowen, Andy Vail, Claire Mitchell, Paul Conroy, Stefanie Bruehl, Anna Woollams
- Organisation and delivery of care across acute and community settings
Principal investigators: Audrey Bowen, Emma Patchwood, Ruth Boarden, Adrian Parry-Jones, Sarah Tyson, Andy Vail, Hiren Patel
See a selection of current research projects, which aim to make a positive impact on health and disease both nationally and globally.
SC IL-1Ra in SAH – phase III
Professor Andrew King and the wider SCIL team are delighted their phase III trial is once again actively recruiting at NHS trusts across the UK. The trial is investigating whether interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) improves outcome following aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage. Recruitment was paused at NHS trusts due to capacity issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, but has now resumed with great success at a number of our partner NHS trusts and neurosurgical centres.
NIHR Funding successes
i) Lauren Lucas is a physio working in the community neuro team at Northern Care Alliance NHS Group at Salford Royal and has been awarded a Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship from the NIHR to allow her to embed herself within the stroke research team at the University of Manchester.
ii) Prof. Craig Smith and his team have been awarded £242,328 for 24 months to study different approaches to oral hygiene to investigate whether this can prevent pneumonia complicating stroke.
Stroke connected health cities
Part of a £20 million Health North initiative, led by Dr Adrian Parry-Jones, stroke researchers are looking at using technology and data to improve the diagnosis and treatment of strokes across Greater Manchester.
BHF collaboration funding success
Stuart Allan and Emmanuel Pinteaux are co-applicants on a BHF funded grant joint with University of Sheffield. Lead applicant is Sheila Francis who they have worked with for many years and other applicants are Jason Berwick and Claire Howarth. The title of the grant is “Atherosclerosis, the brain and vascular dementia – the role of inflammation in neurovascular function” and the total award £265,307 over three years.
Stroke Association Fellowship
Dr Claire Mitchell has been awarded a post-doctoral Fellowship by the Stroke Association to study speech recovery after stroke. For more details, see: Speech after stroke recovery study
$6M programme to tackle cognitive decline after stroke
Professor’s Stuart Allan and Craig Smith are to begin a $6M programme aimed at preventing cognitive decline after stroke. Problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment affect up to a third of people who’ve had a stroke within five years and this can have a major impact on their quality of life. Professor’s Allan and Smith will tackle this problem with other experts worldwide in a new network called Stroke-IMPaCT (Stroke – Immune Mediated Pathways and Cognitive Trajectories), funded by The Leducq Foundation through a Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Award. Among those who will be involved in the Stroke-IMPaCT are experts in stroke, immunology, cognition, and in clinical studies of post-stroke outcomes. The five-year programme will begin in January 2020 and will also involve universities in Edinburgh, Berlin (Charite), Madrid, New York (Cornell and Columbia), Arizona, and Seattle (Washington).
Organising Support for Carers of Stroke Survivors is a large cluster randomised controlled trial, process evaluation and economic study funded by the NIHR CLAHRC in partnership with Stroke Association led by Professor Audrey Bowen and Dr Emma Patchwood.
PhD student Irene Louca awarded EPSRC Doctoral Fellowship Award
Irene Louca has been recently awarded £23,004 to continue her work on the use of hydrogels as cell delivery vehicles for stroke. Dr Catherine Lawrence will host Irene as her sponsor during the 12 month fellowship. This cross-disciplinary work will assess the use of IPSC-derived neural progenitors for brain repair following intracerebral haemorrhage in stroke animal models. The aim is to develop a cell-material based therapy that can improve recovery in stroke survivors.
Our stroke research led to three successful REF2014 impact case studies around services for people with communication, cognition and swallowing difficulties, and the introduction of six month reviews for patients.
The ACT NoW study evaluated the effectiveness of speech and language therapy in stroke rehabilitation and is now being used in international guidelines for stroke recovery.
Our pioneering research led to the introduction of the world's first effective throat stimulation treatment for stroke patients with swallowing problems.
Browse a selection of our research publications.
- A hyperacute immune map of ischaemic stroke patients reveals alterations to circulating innate and adaptive cells.
- Characterisation of microvessel blood velocity and segment length in the brain using multi-diffusion-time diffusion-weighted MRI.
- Non‐pharmacological interventions for spatial neglect or inattention following stroke and other non‐progressive brain injury.
- Environmental Factors and Hyperacute Stroke Care Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Interrupted Time-Series Analysis.
- Value and learning from carer involvement in a cluster randomised controlled trial and process evaluation - Organising Support for Carers of Stroke Survivors (OSCARSS).
- Challenges implementing a carer support intervention within a national stroke organisation: findings from the process evaluation of the OSCARSS trial.
- Organising Support for Carers of Stroke Survivors (OSCARSS): a cluster randomised controlled trial with economic evaluation.
Dr Siobhan Crilly
Siobhan Crilly has been awarded £126,367 by the NC3Rs for a Training Fellowship investigating brain regeneration in zebrafish larvae after haemorrhagic stroke. She is focussed on reducing the number of protected animals required for critical pre-clinical stroke studies.
Dr Kieron South
Kieron South is a basic and translational biochemist with particular expertise in thrombo-inflammation and, more recently, experimental models of stroke and infection. He is the recent recipient of a Medical Research Foundation mid-career Fellowship investigating the contribution of respiratory infection to stroke in young adult.
Dr Emma Patchwood
Emma Patchwood is a research psychologist and Stroke Association Postdoctoral Fellow. Her work includes the OSCARSS carer study (featured above) and the Wellness After Stroke (WAterS) study. She has been named 2020 Rising Star of the World Federation for Neurorehabilitation (WFNR) Organisation for Psychological Research into Stroke (OPSYRIS).
Dr Paul Kasher
Paul Kasher is a translational neuroscience research fellow with expertise in the generation and characterisation of experimental models of neurological disease and recent recipient of a Stroke Association lectureship.
Mrs Claire Mitchell is a research speech and language therapist. Her research involves looking at digital solutions for improving quality of intervention for people with speech impairments after stroke.
Dr Adrian Parry-Jones has been awarded the Stroke Association Margaret Giffen Reader Award, which will support him for 5 years from March 2020 to continue his research to improve outcomes for intracerebral haemorrhage.
Patient and public involvement and engagement
Our research benefits from strong patient, carer and public involvement, and we regularly conduct public engagement activities around stroke science and art. Examples include:
The SPATIAL Patient Advisory group all have first-hand experience of stroke. They supported the research team with every aspect of planning, delivering and understanding this feasibility study. Watch the poster presentation by a member of the group and read the easy access final report which the advisory group helped to write.
A feasibility randomised controlled trial for people with dysarthria, a disordered speech production which is a common symptom after stroke.
Read a blog by project lead Claire Mitchell about living with dysarthria.
OSCARSS research user group
An active user group of carers support the development of all aspects of the design and roll out of the OSCARSS study.
Watch a video about this project featuring members of the user group.
Stroke: Stories of the Self Through Art and Science
The Stroke Association and The University of Manchester ran a set of visual arts workshops and exhibitions at Manchester Central Library and Manchester Museum to tell Stroke survivors’ stories.
Read a blog by artist Elisa Artesero who facilitated the workshops.
Social responsibility in the medical teaching curriculum
Stroke, Self and Brain, a social responsibility project funded by the University in partnership with the Stroke Association, brought together stroke survivors with medical students for workshops to share knowledge and experience of the brain before and after stroke through the creation of original artworks.
Using art to aid recovery after stroke
Mary Burke is a stroke survivor based in Manchester who has developed new art skills since her stroke. Through the use of this new ability, Mary has created a series of paintings and drawings to document her journey to recovery in her journal.
During the Pandemic, Mary has also taken up poetry. You can read an example of her work by downloading the following PDF (497KB).
We are strongly committed to the training and education of our future scientists.
Many of our principal investigators are members of flagship PhD programmes within the Faculty:
- Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership
- BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (including CASE Studentships)
Alternatively, search our project database using the academic names listed under major research activities to find all the PhD opportunities currently available.