Professor Neil Spratt

Professor Neil Spratt | Clinical Neurologist

Professor Neil Spratt | Clinical Neurologist 

Research Program:
Research Topics:
Project Grant
2018 Project Grant
Equipment Grant
2017 Equipment Grant
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant
Fellowship
2017 Fellowship
Project Grant
2016 Project Grant
Project Grant
2016 Project Grant
Project Grant
2015 Project Grant
Project Grant
2015 Project Grant
Project Grant
2014 Project Grant
Project Grant
2014 Project Grant
Scholarship
2014 Scholarship
Fellowship
2013 Fellowship
Project Grant
2013 Project Grant
Project Grant
2013 Project Grant
Project Grant
2013 Project Grant
Project Grant
2012 Project Grant
Project Grant
2012 Project Grant
Project Grant
2011 Project Grant
Project Grant
2010 Project Grant
Fellowship
2010 Fellowship
Project Grant
2009 Project Grant
Project Grant
2007 Project Grant

What are your research interests?

  • New treatments for stroke
  • Understanding basic mechanisms of brain injury in stroke, particularly changes in pressure within the skull, and treatment with body cooling (hypothermia)
  • Acute stroke assessment and treatment - advanced brain imaging and clinical trials
  • Stroke rehabilitation strategies – environmental enrichment, exercise and cardiovascular fitness

Why did you get into research?

I find discovery of new knowledge incredibly exciting – to me, researchers are the great explorers of the modern era.  However I also want to make a difference, to improve the lot of my fellow humans. The choice of stroke was in part for the excitement of a fast changing field but also driven by the recognition that stroke is probably the most neglected of the major diseases – tens of millions of people are disabled or die from stroke each year.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

I expect to contribute to better treatment for stroke patients, in particular to reduce the number of people with significant disability after stroke. Our group is already achieving this locally but have high expectations that we can make a significant contribution to better treatment worldwide. I also hope that our exciting discoveries regarding pressure changes within the skull after stroke will improve understanding and treatment of similar pressure changes after brain injury and other disorders.

Biography

Professor Neil Spratt is a clinical neurologist and basic scientist who leads both a laboratory-based and a clinical research team, aiming to improve treatment and outcomes for stroke patients. He is co-director of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury, which includes researchers based at John Hunter Hospital, HMRI and the University.

Professor Spratt completed his medical degree with honours at the University of Newcastle, Neurology training in Newcastle and Melbourne and his PhD at the National Stroke Research Institute (Melbourne University). He is a staff specialist Neurologist at John Hunter Hospital, and is also taking a leading role in the development of the new medical degree being developed by the Universities of Newcastle and New England.

The strong ethos of the stroke research group is to improve the lives of the 60,000 Australians affected by stroke each year. From improving the triage protocol in ambulances to ensure that patients get the right care as soon as they arrive at hospital through to optimising the CT imaging procedure of the brain to in turn determine suitability for a revolutionary clot-busting drug being tested by Hunter researchers, Professor Spratt and his team are dramatically improving the care of stroke patients in the Hunter.

One such important achievement is his team’s discovery of a previously unsuspected rise in pressure around 24 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms. Professor Spratt and his team believe that this pressure rise is the likely cause of the in-hospital deterioration that occurs in around 15% of stroke patients, rendering many severely disabled. They have discovered that a brief period of body cooling (hypothermia) completely prevents this pressure rise.

This method holds great promise as it is easily administered and is relatively inexpensive, making it more readily available to a wide variety of communities and locations. His stroke recovery research team have been pioneers of environmental enrichment for stroke recovery, and are currently conducting a multicentre clinical trial of this therapy.

Professor Spratt has been an invited speaker at a multiple national and international scientific conferences, and is invited to review scientific papers and research grants for a number of prestigious international granting bodies, highlighting his high standing within the research community. Over the years, he has successfully gained more than $6 million in research funding to investigate the mechanisms and treatment options for stroke and has supervised multiple PhD students to completion of their degrees and future employment.

Specialised / Technical Skills

  • Experimental stroke models
  • Intracranial pressure and cerebrospinal fluid (csf) dynamics
  • Collateral arteries in stroke
  • Therapeutic hypothermia 
  • Advanced ct imaging 
  • Clinical stroke trials 
  • Environmental enrichment and improving cardiovascular fitness post-stroke. 

Affiliations

  • Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury 
  • NHMRC/NHF career development/future leader fellow
  • Joint medical program (with UNE) – theme lead for science and scholarship (JMP-MD)
  • Hunter New England Local Health District
    • Senior Staff Specialist Neurologist, 
    • Acute stroke team

2018

Novel Mechanisms of ‘Stroke-in-Progression’: Intracranial pressure elevation and collateral blood vessel failure after minor stroke
Project Grant
Researchers:

Neil Spratt, Dr Damian McLeod

Description:

Ischaemic stroke, caused by blood clot blocking an artery to the brain, is a leading cause of death and disability. In around 10% of patients the stroke enlarges in the first 24-48 h (stroke-in-progression). Typically, these are people who arrive with mild or rapidly improving stroke symptoms, but most end up with long-term disability. There is no effective treatment, in part because for the last few decades we have been wrong about the cause for stroke progression, so have been trying to treat the wrong mechanism.

more

2017

HMRI Early Career Research Fellowship in Stroke, supported by Dalara Foundation
Fellowship
Researchers:
Description:

To support an Early Career Research Fellowship for 5 years, inclusive of a Research Support Grant, for an affiliated researcher of HMRI in the research area of stroke and intracranial pressure within the HMRI Research Program "Brain & Mental Health".

more
Novel Mechanisms of ‘Stroke-in-Progression’: Intracranial pressure elevation and collateral blood vessel failure after minor stroke
Project Grant
Researchers:

A/Prof Neil Spratt, Dr Damian McLeod

Description:

Ischaemic stroke, caused by blood clot blocking an artery to the brain, is a leading cause of death and disability. In around 10% of patients the stroke enlarges in the first 24-48 h (stroke-in-progression). Typically, these are people who arrive with mild or rapidly improving stroke symptoms, but most end up with long-term disability. There is no effective treatment, in part because for the last few decades we have been wrong about the cause for stroke progression, so have been trying to treat the wrong mechanism.

more
Feasibility and acceptability of a personalised healthy diet versus a ketogenic diet in reducing migraine frequency and severity
Project Grant
Researchers:

Prof Clare Collins, Neil Spratt, Rebecca Williams, Megan Rollo

Description:

Migraine is common with 1 in 5 Australian women and 1 in 10 men regularly experiencing migraine at same stage in their lifetime. Migraines can start in childhood or adolescence but have a peak prevalence around the age of 35 to 45 years. It can be severely debilitating, often requiring time off school and work, and adversely impacting on daily activities and quality of life.

Currently, despite individuals commonly reporting dietary triggers for migraine (e.g. cheese, chocolate, alcohol or other specific foods), no dietary advice is given to those with migraine as part of usual treatment. Our review of research evidence suggests specific nutritional approaches could help manage headaches and indicates this warrants careful evaluation in a randomised controlled trial. 

more
The role of brain water channels in modulating cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) production
Equipment Grant
Description:

SomnoSuite Automatic Ventilator (Kent Scientific Corporation, USA): to artificially ventilate models during surgery under anaesthesia.

more

2016

Novel Mechanisms of ‘Stroke-in-Progression’: Intracranial pressure elevation and collateral blood vessel failure after minor stroke
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Neil Spratt, Dr Damian McLeod

Description:

Ischaemic stroke, caused by blood clot blocking an artery to the brain, is a leading cause of death and disability. In around 10% of patients the stroke enlarges in the first 24-48 h (stroke-in-progression).

more
BUST-Stroke “Breaking Up Sitting Time after Stroke. A new paradigm for reducing recurrent stroke risk”
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Coralie English, Dr Heidi Janssen, Associate Professor Rohan Walker, Professor Neil Spratt, Professor Robin Callister

Description:

Sitting for long periods of time each day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Stroke survivors living at home spend 75% of their waking hours sitting down, which is much higher than healthy people of a similar age, making them at particularly high risk.

more

2015

A better understanding of intracranial pressure changes after brain injury
Project Grant
Researchers:

Associate Professor Neil Spratt, Damian McLeod, Lucy Murtha, Daniel Beard
 

Description:

Funding will be used to conduct preliminary studies of the effects of increased brain pressure (intracranial pressure) on blood flow after stroke.

more
Novel Mechanisms of ‘Stroke-in-Progression’: Intracranial pressure elevation and collateral blood vessel failure after minor stroke
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Neil Spratt, Dr Damien McLeod

Description:

Ischaemic stroke, caused by blood clot blocking an artery to the brain, is a leading cause of death and disability.

more

2014

Determining factors within cerebrospinal fluid that influence intracranial pressure post-stroke.
Scholarship
Researchers:

Ms Rebecca Hood, Dr Neil Spratt 

Description:

Stroke is a leading cause of death disability in Australia. 

more
Novel Mechanisms of ‘Stroke-in-Progression’: Intracranial pressure elevation and collateral blood vessel failure after minor stroke
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Neil Spratt, Dr Damien McLeod 

Description:

Ischaemic stroke, caused by blood clot blocking an artery to the brain, is a leading cause of death and disability. In around 10% of patients the stroke enlarges in the first 24-48 h (stroke-in-progression).

more
Enriched Environment in Rehabilitation - A Phase II Trial
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Heidi Janssen, Neil Spratt, Michael Nilsson 

Description:

The first 6 months have been spent setting up project and applying for further funding.

more

2013

Improving Fitness, Function, Fatigue and Feelings through physical Fun: a pilot trial for stroke survivors IFFFFF
Project Grant
Description:

Stroke is common in Australia and the number of people experiencing stroke will increase with the ageing population.

more
The genetic determinants of brain haemorrhage associated with stroke thrombolysis
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor Christopher Levi, J. Sturmm, Mark Parsons, Neil Spratt, A. Loiselle, B. O'Brien, V. Zenteno, L.Holliday, Rodney Scott, J. Maguire 

Description:

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in Australia and the second leading cause of death.

more
Enriched Environment in Rehabilitation - A Phase II Trial
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Heidi Janssen, Neil Spratt, Michael Nilsson

Description:

The environmental enrichment project, ‘Altering the Rehabilitation Environment to Improve Stroke Survivor Activity (AREISSA): A Phase II Trial’

more
Greater Charitable Foundation Fellows in Stroke Research
Fellowship
Description:

This funding was provided to fund the vanguard phase of two clinical trials in stroke:

more

2012

Greater Charitable Foundation Fellows in Stroke Research
Project Grant
Telemetry measurement of Intracranial Pressure in Stroke and Hypothermia
Project Grant
Researchers:

2011

Experimental brain imaging to investigate novel protective mechanisms of short duration body cooling after stroke - Dalara Foundation Stroke Research Project Grant
Project Grant

2010

Role of CaMKII Targeting in Stroke susceptibility and outcome
Project Grant
Researchers:

Professor John Rostas, Neil Spratt, Kathryn Skelding, Sarah McCann

Improving Patient Selection for Highly Effective Stroke Therapy - GBS Fellow in Stroke Research
Fellowship
Researchers:

2009

Towards better early imaging in stroke: use of an experimental model to investigate CT brain perfusion
Project Grant

2007

Translation of novel neuroprotection and stoke recovery strategies from laboratory to the clinic.
Project Grant
Researchers: