Shashank Shekhar

Name: Shashank Shekhar, MD, MS
Hometown: Jackson, MS, USA
Current Position: Assistant Professor, StrokeNet Co-PI, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Twitter: @artofstroke

Q: What made you interested in a career in stroke?

A: I was always interested in neurosciences. While I was doing my master’s thesis on a stroke topic, I had the opportunity to do a clinical rotation in a stroke unit at Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland, with an excellent door to need time averaging 20 minutes. By that time, I had a solid understanding of basic science and clinical knowledge of stroke, but I was not exposed to the real-time workflow leading to thrombolysis. I get to learn the process from beginning to end, including aftercare of the stroke patient all the way to discharge. The experience was extremely fascinating and immersive. That’s when I decided that I will do vascular neurology.

Q: What has been your career path into this field?

A: I received my medical degree from Government Medical College & Hospital in Chandigarh, India. Soon after, I pursued a master’s degree in neurosciences from the University of Helsinki in Finland. I was involved in several basic stroke research projects at Helsinki University Central Hospital, and later, the clinical birth cohort project (FinnBrain) studying cognition in infants using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy at the University of Turku. I moved to the USA for the neurology residency, followed by a Vascular Neurology fellowship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), where I am currently working as an Assistant Professor. I am active in various clinical projects as PI and StrokeNet co-PI for the UMMC satellite center. I have a particular interest in neurocognition and the identification of biomarkers for acute ischemic stroke. I am also heavily involved in research education for residents and fellows.

Q: Who is your stroke mentor or stroke hero?

A: My stroke mentor/heroes are Professor Turgut Tatlisumak and his mentor, Professor Mark Fisher. Both have dedicated their lives to experimental stroke science.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to a trainee?

A: Start early, and don’t take shortcuts. Make connections. Stroke is nothing without data (evidence) so learn some science (research skills), which will support your career, and you will reach great heights.

Q: What is your favorite hobby or way of de-stressing?

A: I love photography. If I don’t find a model (which is mostly my wife) to photograph, then I default to landscape. 

Q: What is your favorite place to travel to?

A: The Rocky Mountains. My bucket lists are South Georgia Island and New Zealand.