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Preventing Strokes

The work of Oxford’s Stroke Prevention Research Unit led to major revisions of guidelines on stroke management and prevention. How did this effective relationship between research and policy work, and what are the lessons for academics and policy makers in ensuring continual improvement as a nation in prevention of stroke and other common diseases?

Possibilities Seminar

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Ben Howlett and Peter RothwellBen Howlett MP and Professor Peter Rothwell

Chair: Ben Howlett MP

Ben was born in 1986 and studied a degree in History and Politics at Durham University. This was followed by a Master’s in Economic History at the University of Cambridge, after which he worked alongside the National Health Service as a senior, and later managing, healthcare consultant. Ben’s political successes predate his election as MP. Between 2007 and 2011, Ben served as a local councillor in Essex and between 2010 and 2013, Ben was the National Chairman of Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Conservative Party. During this time, Ben oversaw an increase in membership from 18,000 to 23,000 and arranged events with some of the highest profile politicians in the country. He was also the first Conservative Future Chairman in five years to address the Party Conference on the main stage.

Ben was selected as a Conservative candidate at an open primary in 2013 and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Bath in May 2015. Since his election, Ben has continued to work towards his ‘Six Point Plan’, which includes championing local NHS services, ensuring more affordable homes and protecting local services. As an active member of both the Women’s and Equalities Select Committee, Ben is committed to fighting for gender and LGBT+ equality. Recently, he travelled to the United Nations in New York to represent the committee at the Commission on the Status of Women.

Ben is also a member of the Petitions Select Committee, which oversees public petitions and decides which petitions are to be debated in the House of Commons. Ben has made his presence well known within Parliament and he frequently meets with Ministers and Secretaries of State to discuss how he can work with them to improve the lives of Bath residents.

Speaker: Professor Peter Rothwell


Professor Rothwell is a clinical neurologist with an interest in stroke. He was appointed as Clinical Lecturer in Oxford in 1996, was awarded an MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship in 2000, and was given the title of Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Oxford in 2004. He founded the Stroke Prevention Research Unit in 2000, which has since published over 250 scientific papers. In addition to prevention of stroke, his research interests include hypertension, the risks and benefits of aspirin, and the more general theme of how best to apply the results of clinical trials and other forms of research to clinical decisions with individual patients in routine clinical practice. Professor Rothwell’s responsibilities outside Oxford include editorial duties for several international scientific journals, membership of committees of several multicentre trials, and several national and international scientific and advisory committees.


Main research interests are in the causes of stroke and improving the prevention of stroke, particularly after a TIA or minor stroke. Other interests include the more general theme of how best to apply the results of clinical trials and other forms of research to clinical decisions with individual patients in routine clinical practice, hypertension, and the effects of aspirin on non-vascular outcomes, such as cancer.