The clinical academic career path enables you to switch between the clinical arena and the lab, and they both nurture and sustain each other
Academic medicine seemed to be the perfect combination of long-term thinking and immediate gains, and so I did my bachelor degree planning to go into graduate medicine. As it happened, I ended up completing my PhD before applying to UCL Medical School, and so went back to lectures and exams at the tender age of 28. It wasn’t easy but, looking back, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
At the moment, I serve as the co-ordinator of the FORECEE (4C) Study, whose purpose is to identify novel ways of predicting and ultimately preventing women’s cancer. I contribute to research in how to best optimise pan-omic testing (genetic, epigenetic, metabonomic etc.) for cancer risk prediction in healthy women and for women with a BRCA alteration. Epigenetics – often referred to as the science of biological change – offers new ways to understand disease and diagnose it at the earliest possible time. Used in combination with personalised medicine, it has the potential to revolutionise the way we screen and monitor female-specific cancers such as ovarian and endometrial cancers. With the help of new genetic and epigenetic techniques, we are already able to better characterise risk and inform an individual’s choice than previously.
I am also interested in implementation-related themes such as barriers to testing, risk communication and decision-making support, ethical implications, and health behaviour in response to testing. Much work remains in order to make it clinically meaningful, however, as we are just starting to see the benefit of this approach at the bedside.
The clinical academic career path enables you to switch between the clinical arena and the lab, and they both nurture and sustain each other. It is a privilege to be able to see unmet gaps in clinical provision, and then go back to the research group and find out how those gaps could be addressed.
Being in London means that life has a busy pace, and that house prices are beyond reach for most young people. But it also brings vibrancy and a buzzing sense of being where it all happens. I was able to do an NIHR-funded part-time MSc (Genomics in Medicine) at Imperial as part of my ACF, which has led to a collaboration between UCL’s Institute for Women’s Health and the Phenome Centre at Imperial. This kind of collaboration would only have been possible in London.
My ambition is to stay in research alongside my clinical practice, and to contribute to the field of gynaecological oncology.