Dr. Hakim is one of Canada’s most distinguished scientists who has earned a world-renowned reputation for his leadership in neuroscience research with an emphasis on stroke research. In the early 1980's Dr. Hakim characterized a penumbral region around a stroke’s ischemic core — brain tissue with enough energy to survive for a short time after blood loss and with the potential to regain normal function if blood flow was restored. Dr. Hakim, who joined the University of Ottawa in 1992, led the charge to set up the Canadian Stroke Network, a network of centres of excellence; he then partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and other organizations to develop and apply a nation-wide Canadian Stroke Strategy. This work was critical to changing attitudes towards strokes, which went from being a devastating condition to one that is preventable, treatable and repairable.
In 2006, Dr. Hakim and colleagues published the first ‘Canadian Best Practice Recommendation for Stroke Care’ (updated in 2008, 2010 and 2012) and developed performance indicators and toolkits for healthcare providers to set up stroke units and improve emergency medical services. They also instituted a multi-layered national education program to enhance stroke prevention and the delivery of acute stroke care through the coordination of services and the implementation of best practices. Within five years of the Strategy’s implementation, Ontario alone saw referrals to stroke prevention clinics increase by 34% and stroke patient admissions decrease by 11%.