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Rustam Al-Shahi Salman

Rustam Al-Shahi Salman’s research led him to Edinburgh mid-career, but he had been longing to move to the city for years before starting his PhD here. Inspired by the expertise at Edinburgh, he is still here today leading vital research into the outcomes for stroke patients.

Name Rustam Al-Shahi Salman
Degree Course PhD
Year of Graduation 2005
Rustam Al-Shahi Salman

Your time at the University

I set my heart on living in Edinburgh as a boy, when I was growing up in Northumberland. The city’s unique beauty and Scotland’s mountainous wilderness were deeply alluring.

My head told me that it was time to move to Edinburgh in the late 1990s, when I was working in London. I had become interested in stroke, and overawed by the enormous global burden caused by the disease, whilst training in Cambridge and working as a junior doctor. Stroke was regarded as an untreatable disease during my training in the 1980s, but the Edinburgh Stroke Research Group was leading the field in researching simple treatments like aspirin and operating on the carotid artery in the neck in the 1990s.

Whilst on call, I would enrol patients in Edinburgh’s large, pragmatic clinical trials embedded in everyday clinical practice that would go on to change stroke medicine. I attended the Edinburgh Clinical Trials course, and then I was hooked! All I had to do was obtain funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) for my research fellowship and tempt my wife to move to Edinburgh, neither of which was as difficult as I had expected.

My head told me that it was time to move to Edinburgh in the late 1990s, when I was working in London. I had become interested in stroke, and overawed by the enormous global burden caused by the disease, whilst training in Cambridge and working as a junior doctor.

Rustam Al-Shahi Salman

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

I haven’t left, I have stayed! Research and clinical medicine mix very well in Edinburgh. After my PhD I trained as a neurologist. I continued the research that I had begun for my PhD, investigating stroke due to haemorrhage in the Scottish population. I was fortunate to obtain a MRC clinician scientist fellowship to continue my research whilst completing training as a neurologist, and latterly a senior clinical fellowship to establish my independence.

All of this was made possible by the support, leadership and mentorship here in Edinburgh, both in my own department as well as elsewhere within the University. Thirteen years after arriving, I lead the Research to Understand Stroke due to Haemorrhage (RUSH; www.RUSH.ed.ac.uk) programme, which seeks to improve the outcome for adults affected by one of the most devastating types of stroke. The RUSH team has grown, but our challenge now is to attract funding in order to maintain our momentum and ultimately change clinical practice.

Alumni wisdom

Embrace research as a way to improve human health, focus on the biggest challenges in your area, and don’t shy away from protesting about what’s wrong with the world – we are all part of the solution!