Dr Sonu Bhaskar

About Dr Sonu Bhaskar

Dr Sonu M. M. Bhaskar MD PhD FANA is a physician-scientist, board director, and academic neurologist, specializing in vascular neurology & neuroradiology, who leads an international collaborative research program in global health neurology, translational neuroscience, public/health policy, and health systems.

Dr Sonu Bhaskar, Director, NSW Brain Clot Bank on 9 News

Short Bio

Dr Sonu M. M. Bhaskar is the Director of Global Health Neurology Lab in Sydney, Australia, and Founding Director and Chief Investigator of NSW Brain Clot Bank – a flagship world’s first initiative established with funding from the NSW Ministry of Health in partnership with the NSW Health Pathology, local health districts (LHDs), comprehensive stroke centres, NSW-based medical research institutes, and community. The NSW Brain Clot Bank, housed within NSW Health Pathology, is conducting ground-breaking research into the prevention and treatment of strokes and has gained significant state-wide, national, and international attention.

Dr Bhaskar has several years of leadership and governance experience, in initiating and delivering systems change, in senior leadership and executive roles at academic, healthcare, and research organizations, and not-for-profit boards and international consortia. Dr Bhaskar leads national and international initiatives on reducing health disparities with a focus on vulnerable populations and under-resourced settings. Since 2020, he has led several expert committees and contributed to policy briefs on COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Bhaskar is leading a not-for-profit independent think-tank on policy development for global pandemic citizen preparedness and action, namely the Pandemic Health System REsilience PROGRAM (REPROGRAM) international consortium (> 150 members from > 25 countries) of international healthcare physicians, researchers, and policymakers. The consortium has published policy briefs and evidence-based practice recommendations, which have been adopted by the community and public organizations and published in peer-reviewed journals, to address emergent and future risks and concerns specific to several low-income countries and vulnerable communities.

Dr Bhaskar has a deep and longstanding commitment to the not-for-profit sector, medical volunteering, and community service in Australia and overseas. Dr Bhaskar is the recipient of prestigious national and international awards including the EU Marie Curie Fellowship, the Spanish Ministry of Health Fellowship, the Dutch Ministry Top Talent Award in Biomedical Sciences and Medical Innovation, and the Prof. AR Rao Young Scientist Award. He is the two-time winner of the 2019 European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Investigator Award, the 2020 Rotary Vocational Excellence Award, the 2021 Paul Harris Fellow recognition, the 2022 Top 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian Australian Leadership Award, the 2022 Australian Global Talent Award and the 2023 IABCA Science, Research and Development Award.

Dr. Bhaskar has developed an international profile as a key thought leader and communicator in global health neurology, innovation, and research partnerships, underscored by the local and global impact of his leadership and initiatives on health systems & communities, strategic and engaging multi-stakeholder engagement experience, and an extensive publication record. The depth of Dr. Bhaskar’s work has also been recognized by the recent grant of the Global Talent Immigration (GTI) visa by the Australian Government (in late December 2021). GTI is a globally competitive program to attract highly-qualified, experienced, and exceptionally talented (“specialized”) individuals with an international record of exceptional and outstanding achievement to work and live permanently in Australia.

Beyond medicine, Dr Bhaskar loves classical music, languages, deep conversations on history, culture, and music over red wine (his favorite being Vino Rojo de La Rioja), traveling, chess, and poetry. He is learning Japanese and Classical Hebrew, dabbles in theology and philosophy of life, and is addicted to Sephardic music, Rabindra Sangeet, Dreidel, and Jewish folktales.

Dr. Bhaskar’s senior leadership and governance experience in initiating and delivering systems change spans academic, healthcare, and research organizations, and not-for-profit boards as well as international consortia. He has >10 years of experience working at the world’s leading universities, medical and research centers in Europe, Asia, and Australia – including St Radboud University Medical Centre (Nijmegen, Netherlands), Helmholtz Centre (Technical University of Munich, Germany), Hospital Miguel Servet (Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (India), Liverpool Hospital, Ingham Institute, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Western Sydney University, Sydney Medical School (University of Sydney), John Hunter Hospital/Hunter Medical Research Institute (Newcastle), and The University of Newcastle (Australia). During 2019-2020, Dr Bhaskar held an executive leadership role (2019-2020) with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Enterprise (DVC-E)/SPHERE – Maridulu Budyari Gumal Alliance at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney – an NHMRC-recognized Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre (AHRTC).

He led international efforts on COVID-19, leading several expert committees, and policy briefs – the latest of which on cytokine storm in COVID-19 was published in Frontiers in Immunology and has attracted >300 citations, and global attention including in popular media outlets such as National Observer (Canada), Outside and Prodavinci. Another evidence-based practice recommendation for chronic neurological patients during COVID-19 was published in Frontiers in Neurology and was recently cited by Forbes. The policy analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on telemedicine across the globe and on various medical specialties has been cited by Quartz and Medscape, respectively. During the COVID-19 pandemic, his work goal has been to pursue evidence-based policy development, action-led advocacy for global pandemic preparedness as well as building capacities.

Dr. Bhaskar is on a mission to reduce the disparities in healthcare equity & access and reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases in general, and neurological conditions, in particular, through medical service & research, innovation, public engagement, and community service intending to bring translational change in health systems with a focus on clinical practice & delivery in under-resourced settings, and, hopefully, improve the quality of life of patients.

Dr. Bhaskar’s pioneering research, leadership, and community engagement have had a local and global impact, notably the NSW Brain Clot Bank and Neurologies Talkies program. Dr. Bhaskar’s idea to create the world’s first Brain Clot Bank has gained state-wide, national, and international attention and put NSW on the world map in the field. This stemmed from his research and clinical work where he found there is a gap in the knowledge around mechanisms of stroke, especially the cryptogenic stroke, those without a definite cause or unknown aetiology despite extensive diagnostic work-up, that contributes to 30-40% of all strokes.

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term adult disability and is the second leading cause of mortality, both in Australia and globally. Dr Bhaskar is committed to improving access, delivery, and efficacy of reperfusion therapy in stroke through precise advanced imaging-based selection and streamlined health systems pathways & models of care in stroke. The advancement in novel imaging-based patient selection for reperfusion treatments using intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) has revolutionized the field of stroke medicine.

He is a Fellow of the American Neurological Association (ANA) and a member of several prestigious societies including the European Academy of Neurology, Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA), Stroke Society of Australasia, Spanish Society of Neurophysiology, Dutch Neuroscience Federation/FENS, Indian Academy of Neurosciences, Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), European Society for Hybrid Medical Imaging (ESHMI) and International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (ISCBFM).

Dr. Bhaskar has contributed extensively to research and academia, exemplified by his publication record, including several conference presentations and guest lectures in Australia and worldwide, Editorial Board Memberships of BMC Neurology, PLOS One, BMC Medical Research Methodology, Frontiers in Stroke, and Frontiers Public Health, as well as an expert reviewer for several peer-reviewed medical journals and grants/funding bodies such as Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Poland and Cariplo Foundation, Milan, Italy. He has published >90 peer-reviewed scientific articles, with an H-Index of 30 (Google Scholar) and >7000 citations (a full list of publications is available elsewhere). Dr Bhaskar’s work has been published in top-tiered journals including the Lancet, European Journal of Neurology, Frontiers in Immunology, Nature Scientific Reports, Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, BMC Neurology, Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, Acta Neurologica Belgica, Clinical Science, and Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism.

Dr Bhaskar is an innovator with a passion for translational medicine – bringing bench-to-bedside research, technological innovations, and scientific discoveries for the benefit of patients suffering from debilitating neurological conditions. Dr Bhaskar gives workshops on computational medicine focussing on hands-on-approach to applying artificial intelligence, machine learning, and statistical modeling to develop models to address research questions of clinical, public health, and social needs. Dr Bhaskar is often invited as keynote speaker, facilitator, and panelist at several international conferences and workshops/s. He was the Chair of the Emerging Leaders for Health Partnerships initiative and Convenor of Partnerships for Better Health International Symposium, held in Sydney in 2019.

Having worked at the coal face of medicine, academia, and community, his focus and interests have increasingly galvanized towards social and geographical inequalities in health. Besides interdisciplinary, intersectoral, and collaborative research in neurology, Dr. Bhaskar leads national and international initiatives on reducing health disparities with a focus on vulnerable populations and under-resourced settings. Dr. Bhaskar is passionate about advocacy and leadership for social impact and innovation, rooted in diversity, inclusion, community, and belonging. Dr. Bhaskar is a committed Rotarian and sits on the boards of several community service organizations, including the Rotary Club of Sydney where he serves in a leadership capacity as the Board Director since 2019, first as Chair of Membership (2019-2021) and as the Chair of Youth since 2021. More recently, Dr. Bhaskar has been appointed Rotary District 9675 Chair of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (2022-2023).

By the nomination and under the direction of the Board, Dr. Bhaskar spearheaded the Governance and Leadership Manual/Roadmap for Executive Leadership in the Rotary centenary year. Dr. Bhaskar served as an International Board Director with the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors/Rotary Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals, an organization based out of the UK with global footprints – a role which he has begun on July 1, 2021, for one year tenure (2021-2022). Notably, he was the only representative from Australasia on the International Board.

Dr. Bhaskar leads several community service initiatives within and beyond Rotary. Founded by Dr Bhaskar in 2019, Neurology Talkies is a grassroots program dedicated to improving awareness of neurological diseases through community engagement. In 2019, Dr. Bhaskar was selected to deliver two Neurology Talkies talks at Liverpool and Carnes Hill Library, for Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science Series, as part of the Sydney Science Festival in National Science Week.

He is committed to collaborative research and medical care with compassionate outreach. Besides medicine, he takes a keen interest in science communication for global health & equity, medical volunteering, poetry, and humanitarian initiatives. He is the past Ambassador for eLife in Australia and an active member of the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA), Rotary International & the EMCR forum (supported by the Australian Academy of Sciences).

According to Expertscape, Dr Sonu Bhaskar is ranked among the world’s top 0.39%, 0.35%, 0.56%, and 0.75% of researchers/experts in the fields of Stroke, Cerebrovascular Disorders, Brain Diseases, and Cardiovascular Diseases, respectively. Dr. Bhaskar has been featured in Sydney Morning Herald, 9 News, Reuters Health/Medscape, Rotary Down Under, AI In Healthcare, and ABC News-MSN.

Dr. Bhaskar has successfully led notable initiatives with broader policy implications – has developed strong collaborative linkages in Australia, Europe, and Asia. As a clinical academic, Dr. Bhaskar has expeditiously invested in research addressing “real-world clinical challenges” in partnership with broader healthcare research networks and communities. Dr. Bhaskar has attracted substantial funding through national and international fellowships and project grants.

Dr. Sonu Bhaskar is the recipient of the 2020 Rotary District 9675/85 Vocational Excellence Award (the full citation is available online from the Rotary District 9675 website here).

Dr. Bhaskar is a great proponent of advocacy and leadership for social impact, humane and ethical innovation, and patient-centered care, rooted in diversity, inclusion, community, and belonging; attracting invitations to lead international workshops on inclusive leadership in medicine. In recognition of his transformative leadership, in 2020, he was offered the acclaimed Scholar in Residence Fellowship from the Washington-based Association of Academic Health Centres International (AAHCI).

Dr. Bhaskar’s teaching and mentoring philosophy are to assist his students in discovering their clinical and research passions, channeling their energy productively, and eventually assisting them in achieving their specific career goals. He believes that having a talented student choose you as a mentor is both an honor and a huge responsibility. His mentorship mantra is defined by his transformational leadership style, demonstrated by active placements, high distinction, publications in highly reputed journals, awards, funding track record, and recognition of his students and staff.

As a clinical academic, Dr Bhaskar mentors and supports young entrepreneurs, researchers, clinicians, research fellows, and MD/Ph.D. students, and takes a keen interest in the team’s mental health and well-being. Due to his tireless commitment to academic teaching, and mentorship focused on diversity, inclusion, and belonging, unique teaching style underpinning problem-based learning, and targeted boot camps; his group is highly sought after among the trainees and students. Read more about current and past members of the Global Health Neurology Team on this page.

Dr Bhaskar also volunteers his time as a mentor to bright young STEM Australian scholars under the aegis of the Australian Technology, Science and Engineering (ATSE)’s Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) program. ATSE is a leading academy comprising 800 of the leading technologists, applied scientists, and engineers in Australia.

Medicine: Global Health; Clinical Neurology; Translational Neuroscience; Cerebrovascular Disease, Stroke; Cardiovascular Disease; COVID-19; Telemedicine; Neuroradiology; Digital Health; Clinical Trials; Population Health; Epidemiology; Social Medicine

Systems: Health Systems; Health Policy; Board Director; Not-for-Profit; Governance; Consortium

Social Impact: Social Inequalities in Health; Social Determinants of Health; Health Equity; Advocacy; Ethics; Community Service; Community Medicine; Leadership in Humanitarian Settings; Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging; Vulnerable Communities

Innovation: Machine Learning; Artificial Intelligence; Computational Medicine; Open Innovations; Open Access; Meta-analysis; Biobanks

Regions: Asia-Pacific, South Asia, Europe, Latin America, West Africa

Global Health Neurology and Translational Neuroscience Laboratory, Sydney, Australia

NSW Brain Clot Bank, NSW Health Pathology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Neurovascular Imaging Laboratory, Clinical Sciences Stream, Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Department of Neurology and Neurophysiology, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Liverpool Hospital and South-Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

University of New South Wales (UNSW), South-Western Sydney Clinical School, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Stroke and Neurology Research Group, Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia.

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