Introduction to STAIR Consensus Conferences

STAIR Mission Statement

The STAIR consensus conferences are intended to improve the process of researching, developing and refining pharmaceuticals and devices designed to treat stroke.

STAIR Goal

To collaboratively develop, disseminate and support the adoption of recommendations which address impediments and maximize opportunities for successfully, efficiently and rapidly mounting and completing acute stroke studies encompassing the entire R&D process.

STAIR Overview: What makes STAIR Consensus Conferences Unique

  • STAIR is an invitation only conference, which assembles a select group of the world’s leading scientists from industry, academia and government

  • STAIR encourages formal and informal exchanges in a collegial atmosphere to stimulate candid and open idea exchange which promotes crosscutting discussions unique to the STAIR venue

  • Participants openly address critical questions and issues, intended to explore and examine the current state of stroke treatment research and development and what can be improved to enhance the process and progress of discovery to human studies in stroke treatment

  • During the conference, a consensus process is initiated, which results in the development of recommendations which have proven vital to improving stroke drug and device development

  • STAIR recommendations from all seven STAIR conferences have been published in the journal Stroke

  • STAIR recommendations serve as a benchmarks and standards which are applied by academia, industry and government to preclinical and human stroke research

  • STAIR strives to be a positive influence on stroke treatment research by embracing a diversity of approaches and concepts

  • STAIR provides a forum for networking amongst participants from industry, academia and government

  • In addition to the STAIR meetings, a STEPS -- Stem Cell Therapies as an Emerging Paradigm in Stroke consensus conference was convened in 2007 employing the STAIR model

STAIR Consensus Process

All conference participants are given the opportunity to engage in the STAIR collaborative process which results in a consensus statement and recommendations.

The consensus development process is as follows:

  • The participants are divided into three smaller groups – each participant selecting one of three topics/content areas to join

  • All participants from academia, industry and government are provided equal opportunity to participate in a facilitated discussion process, during which recommendations developed by leading academic thought leaders in stroke, are presented, openly discussed and may be amended, expanded, reduced, rejected, replaced, and/or refined by the group

  • Each of the three content groups then presents the recommendations it developed to the entire conference assemblage

  • The recommendations from the STAIR conference are then assigned to a writing committee which expands and refines them into a draft manuscript

  • The draft paper is circulated to all STAIR participants for their comments

  • Appropriate and helpful comments are incorporated into the manuscript by the writing committee

  • A final draft manuscript is circulated to participants providing them an opportunity to sign as contributors to the manuscript

  • The manuscript is submitted to and published by the journal Stroke

STAIR Background and History

The first STAIR conference was held in 1999. STAIRs have been convened approximately every two years since they began with STAIR VIII taking place in 2013. The Stroke Treatment and Academic Roundtable (STAIR) concept to assemble industry, academia and government was conceived in 1998 by Dr. Marc Fisher and Gary Houser. Dr. Fisher is Professor of Neurology and Radiology at University of Massachusetts Medical School where he has specialized in stroke treatment and rehab as well as testing and development of pharmaceutical agents aimed at remediating stroke. Dr. Fisher served as STAIR Conferences chairman for STAIR conferences I-VI after which he accepted the appointment of editor-in-chief of the journal Stroke and passed the STAIR chairmanship on to Dr. Greg Albers. Dr. Albers is director of the Stanford Stroke Center and Coyote Foundation Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford School of Medicine. Gary Houser has coordinated all STAIR conferences. He is the co-founder of the National Stroke Association and President of The Stroke Group which serves as consultants to organizations active in the stroke treatment arena.

STAIR Faculty and Participants From Academia, Industry and Government

Faculty and participants include the top stroke research physicians, statisticians and trialists from around the world. The US government agencies responsible for stroke drug and device regulation and research including the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH-NINDS) have been very involved in assisting to identify key issues STAIR should address. A significant number of their staff actively participates as presenters, moderators and discussants. Scientists and research executives from industry also serve as presenters, moderators and discussants.

STAIR Funding Model

STAIR receives no government funding. Revenue to support STAIR conferences is provided by participating private sector companies that serve as sponsors for the conferences. Faculty from academia are supported with travel reimbursement and modest honoraria.