Dr Carlos Garcia-Esperon is a stroke neurologist and researcher at John Hunter Hospital where he is Director of Hunter Stroke Services. Dr Garcia-Esperon undertook a Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He then completed a dissertation in ischaemic stroke at the University of Bern while undertaking further clinical training in Stroke at the Kantonsspital Aarau. He subsequently undertook a Stroke Fellowship at John Hunter Hospital, and in 2020 completed a PhD program in brain imaging and thrombolytic therapy in acute stroke at the University of Newcastle.
Reperfusion therapies for ischaemic stroke are amongst the most beneficial and cost-effective therapies in medicine but are highly time critical. With a focus on an equity of access to acute stroke therapies in rural and regional centres, Dr Garcia Esperon’s research aims to integrate advanced brain imaging, targeted acute stroke therapies and enhanced clinician education to optimise outcomes for acute stroke patients in these areas. Together with Prof Spratt, Levi and Parsons, he pioneered Telestroke in NSW, to deliver imaging and neurologist supported acute stroke therapies in rural hospitals in NSW. This was expanded from a proof of concept to a state-wide network. He was the lead author on the analysis of the pilot project, which was instrumental in obtaining funding from Ministry of Health.
A project based on this work won the Health and Research Innovation category of the 2020 Hunter New England Health Excellence Awards. He has been awarded a Hunter New England Clinical and Health Service Research Fellowship and a Viertel Foundation Clinical Investigator Award to build on this research.
Dr Garcia Esperon has published his work in high impact journals and has presented at national and international conferences. He has also spoken on several occasions at the invitation-only International Symposium on Thrombolysis, Thrombectomy and Acute Stroke Therapy and the European and American annual stroke conferences. Locally, he has presented widely in regional and rural centres in NSW on the role of telethrombolysis in stroke management and educating healthcare practitioners in its role in acute stroke treatment.
I am originally from rural Spain, where my grandparents were farmers, and I have experienced the imbalance in access to healthcare services due to geographic location. So, I steered the focus of my career towards enhancing access to reperfusion therapies for ischaemic stroke, with a special focus on rural areas.
My research has always been driven by a desire to improve outcomes for stroke patients. I have clinical research expertise and I have sought to use this to advance knowledge and knowledge translation in stroke research.
Ischaemic stroke treatment has been transformed by the availability of reperfusion therapies. These are among the most effective therapies in recent medicine but to ensure that the benefits are realised for patients, we need to ensure that patients get this care quickly. I have been fortunate to work with colleagues who share my vision, and we have pioneered approaches to pre-hospital triage and telestroke.
My future focus includes the growth of research productivity in established projects with rural hospitals, and the development of new projects to build on research efforts in the treatment of acute stroke. I want to develop other initiatives to improve stroke outcome in rural Australia and close the rural-metropolitan gap for stroke patients.