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Faculty Spotlight: Ying Xian, PhD

Monday, April 4, 2016

One of the newest faculty members of the Neurology Department, Ying Xian, PhD comes to us from the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), where he studied stroke and cardiovascular disease at the population level. In this interview, Xian discusses his clinical research efforts, expanding his horizons within the Neurology Department, and his loves of astronomy and Chopin.

What are your responsibilities within the Department? What does a typical day for you look like?
Most of my time is devoted to cardiovascular diseases and stroke outcomes research. It is our goal to develop and share knowledge that improves the care of patients around the world through innovative clinical research. I also review research and statistical plans and work with young faculty and fellows as a mentor, to help them develop their study proposals and access appropriate databases that exist nationally and at the DCRI. In addition, I work with the leadership at the DCRI to develop strategic partnerships with collaborators in China.

How does working for the Department compare to being part of the DCRI? What’s the biggest change you’ve encountered so far?
While I was originally trained in cardiology, most of my research most of my research has focused on stroke. Joining the department of neurology really opens my mind and gets me exposed to other area of neurological diseases. I’m truly looking forward to diversifying my research portfolio and working with faculty at the department.

You’re a co-investigator into the DCRI’s PROSPER clinical trial, which runs through October of this year. Can you briefly tell me about this study? Do you have any early findings or observations that you can share?
Please refer to the attached article in BMJ, which explains the study in detail. This study was highlighted at the PCORI annual meeting last year as an exemplary in patient-centered outcomes research. We developed the study with the patients and for the patients. By working side-by-side with them, we evaluated outcomes important to stroke survivors and their caregivers. It is our goal to help them make informed decisions from their perspectives.

You recently attended the 2016 International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles, where you presented three abstracts. Can you briefly describe these abstracts? What did you enjoy the most about the meeting?
Here is a link describing the stroke mimics study presented at the ISC. The other thing I’d like to highlight is the abstract we presented at the AHA Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Outcomes last week. Atrial fibrillation is one of the major risk factors for ischemic stroke. While the burden of stroke by afib is high, afib is also a preventable cause of stroke. Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of warfarin or non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOCAs) for stroke prevention.

Unfortunately, oral anticoagulation is still largely underused. We analyzed pre-stroke antithrombotic patterns among 100k ischemic stroke with a medical history of afib from 1600 Get With The Guidelines Hospitals in the United States. Even among 98k patients with a pre-stroke CHA2DS2-VASc score of 2 or higher (suggesting these patients should be on anticoagulation if no contraindication), 85% of them were either not on guideline recommended anticoagulation or are not therapeutic on their anticoagulation. These data highlight the substantial  missed opportunities for stroke prevention in afib patients.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I like astronomy. I love star gazing but I cannot do it anymore—had lasik surgery and lost my night vision. I also love classic music, Chopin in particular.