Current projections suggest the burden of stroke in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will escalate over coming decades due to an acceleration in prevalence of risk factors, against a background of ill-prepared health systems to deliver appropriate prevention and treatment solutions. Moreover, while the genetic architecture of a population may play an instrumental role in risk factor predisposition & ultimately the manifestation of stroke, knowledge about role of genes & their interactions with environmental factors to cause stroke among Africans remains fragmentary & inadequately explored. Nevertheless, too few stroke studies have been conducted in Africa to date due to a severe lack of regional stroke research capacity. The Sub-Saharan Africa Conference on Stroke (SSACS) 2020 is the first dedicated cross-national scientific forum focused on cerebrovascular disease in SSA, with the overarching goal of bringing together key stakeholders, identifying gaps in knowledge, setting priorities for stroke research, and identifying/supporting promising young investigators with an interest in Stroke research. SSACS 2020 is a one-day symposium, which will be held in mid-July 2020 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, featuring plenary and keynote talks by distinguished researchers, balanced symposia, poster sessions, and community engagement sessions. SSACS is a collaborative initiative with several global organizations including the World Stroke Organization, World Federation of Neurology, among others. The involvement of these groups brings to this important effort, wide access to relevant scientific disciplines, volunteer engagement from leaders in the field, worthwhile in-kind resources, and proven experience in implementing high impact programs. Basic scientists, translational researchers and clinicians, seasoned investigators and early career scientists will be invited, but recognizing that early stage investigators will be the future of scientific progress in SSA, a major emphasis is to encourage the active involvement of an early career cohort of investigators. This proposal specifically requests support for 20 Young Investigator Travel Awards, which we expect to be an integral part of our strategy to recruit, retain and actively engage young SSA investigators in stroke research.
SSACS Specific Aims are: To host a forum which will identify knowledge gaps and provide opportunities for researchers from diverse disciplines to discuss cutting-edge research about stroke epidemiology in SSA; 2) To accelerate collaborations via networking opportunities among stakeholders; 3) To award travel scholarships to 20 multidisciplinary Post-Doctoral Scholars from a regional pool committed to stroke research careers ; 4) To disseminate knowledge generated from SSACS via scientific & public venues; 5) To evaluate effectiveness of SSACS by assessing number of attendees, and Young Investigator Awardee Achievements.
Stroke is a major public health challenge leading to death, disability, and dementia in sub-Saharan Africa, and this burden is expected to rise substantially over the next several decades. Strengthening research capacity in prevention and treatment of stroke in the region is an urgent priority. The proposed regional stroke conference will identify gaps and opportunities, facilitate networking among stakeholders, and address a critical deficiency of African scientists committed to a career in stroke research.