Dr Sonu Bhaskar is a medical entrepreneur and global health leader responsible for establishing the world’s first Blood Clot Biobank in Sydney. Founding Director and Chief Investigator at the NSW Brain Clot Bank, Dr Bhaskar is among world’s top specialists in the fields of stroke and cerebrovascular disorders, and is leading the effort to discover the unknown causes behind the disease that is now Australia’s third leading cause of death.
Dr Bhaskar started his career in his home country of India, where he was inspired by his grandfather to work hard and overcome financial challenges to obtain a leading education. Growing up, he studied long hours in front of a kerosene lamp due to limited access to electricity and walked several kilometres each way to primary school. Under scholarship, he was able to study medicine and neurosciences at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) and began his research into Neuroradiology, neurophysiology and Neuroimaging techniques, with a particular focus on stroke patients. He went on to receive highly competitive fellowships/awards, including European Union’s Marie Curie Fellowship and Prof AR Rao Young Scientist Award, working at the leading medical centres and research institutes in the Netherlands, Spain and India.
Having already established a reputation as a leading clinician scientist in Europe, Dr Bhaskar migrated to Australia in 2013, and acquired his Australian medicine degree (Doctorate in Medicine) at the University of Newcastle followed by a postdoctorate at the Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney. Over the following five years, he took on a range of clinical research fellowships and teaching roles at institutions including the University of Newcastle, John Hunter Hospital, the Hunter Medical Research Institute, the University of Sydney, and the University of Western Sydney. His expertise in neurovascular research and clinical intervention led Dr Bhaskar to be invited to lead the health systems program to reduce treatment delays in acute stroke and establish a neurovascular imaging program at Liverpool.
From 2017, his clinical studies and research trials around acute strokes led Dr Bhaskar to refine the idea of a biobank, and in 2019, together with co-director, Associate Professor Murray Killingsworth, Dr Bhaskar launched the NSW Brain Clot Bank in partnership with key health stakeholders. Just three years into operation, the bank has already collected hundreds of blood clot samples, and is improving the understanding of what makes up the clot, where in the body it came from and how it’s interacting with normal tissue in the brain. Dr Bhaskar hopes it will become an important resource in groundbreaking cardiovascular/stroke research and assist clinicians in the treatment of patients and prevention of stroke.
Dr Bhaskar is a passionate contributor to global medical research and innovation across the health system. He is the Director of Global Health Neurology Lab in Sydney, an international collaborative research program in global health neurology, translational neuroscience, public health policy, and health systems. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Bhaskar led an international consortium of more than 150 healthcare physicians, researchers, and policymakers from over 25 countries around the world, all coming together to collaborate on global pandemic preparedness and action. His work has been published in top-tier scientific journals attracting >4000 citations and coverage in leading Australian and international media outlets.
Dr. Bhaskar’s work in neurology and research, along with his broader commitment to the not-for-profit sector, volunteering, and community service in Australia and overseas, has attracted global recognition. He is a two-time winner of the 2019 European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Investigator Award, the 2020 Rotary Vocational Excellence Award, and 2021 Paul Harris Fellow recognition.Motivated by his personal journey from humble beginnings to global leadership in a critical area of health research, Dr Bhaskar is determined to always live a life of service. He remains inspired by the teachings of his late Grandfather who instilled in him the belief that no matter what your resources may be, you can always make a difference in the lives of others.
See Dr Bhaskar’s response here to being named the Awardee of the Australian Global Talent Award for 2022.