Scientific title:
Increasing the experimental validity and utility of preclinical stroke research
University of Edinburgh
Principal investigator:
Professor Emily Sena
Grant value:
Research ID:
SA L-SNC 18\1003
Research area:
Start date:
Tuesday 1 May 2018
End date:
Wednesday 1 May 2024
6 years
Year awarded:


Laboratory (pre-clinical) research into stroke includes modelling stroke in animals, or in an artificial environment, such as in a petri dish or test tube.

However, the robustness and standards required for conducting and reporting the findings of pre-clinical stroke research greatly lag behind those required for clinical trials of stroke in humans.

Given that pre-clinical stroke research informs the design of clinical trials in humans, it is of great importance to study the way in which it is performed and reported. This has the potential to provide important insights into how to best improve the reliability and usefulness of this research and ensure that consequent human trials conducted are the most likely to be successful and help patients.

Aims of the project

The current research project will investigate potential sources of bias that limit our ability to reproduce scientific findings from animal and other preclinical research.

By using cutting-edge computer tools, the project aims to provide an online resource, automatically updated in real-time, that summarises all pre-clinical studies of stroke, the drugs tested and quality of these experiments.

This resource should provide the stroke research community with the necessary evidence to continue recent improvements in standards of this work and allow assessments of progress.

These improvements include refining and replacing the use of animals in stroke research where other preclinical types of study are shown to be more appropriate for answering research questions.

A further aim of the research project is to inform the design of animal studies, to allow them to be performed with the same rigour and international collaboration with which clinical trials are commonly performed, enhancing their robustness and improving confidence in their findings.

The project will also investigate how relevant our pre-clinical models of stroke are to the experiences of patients who have a stroke and use this to help steer our approach toward this type of study.

What difference could this research make?

The overall purpose of this research is to make pre-clinical stroke research more reliable and useful to inform how to design human clinical trials with a higher chance of success.

Professor Emily Sena was awarded the 'Stroke Association Kirby Laing Foundation Senior Non-Clinical Lectureship Award' in 2018. Emily is pictured below (second from right) with (L-R) Frederick Lewis (Kirby Lang Foundation, Lady Estelle Wolfson and Professor Sir Mark Wolport at our 2018 Keynote Lecture.

Professor Emily Sena receiving her award