Alumni profile - Dr Imran Farooq
When I left Barts I had no research publications, but after nine years, I have published more than sixty research papers (with 30+ total impact factor) and book chapters that have acquired over six hundred citations... I was also the recipient of the IAU, College of Dentistry’s competitive “Best Researcher Award” in 2017.
Why did you study a Masters in Oral Biology at Barts and The London? What sparked your interest in this specific degree? It was the first time this course was being offered by Barts and The London. There were very few subject experts when I took the course in 2010. The uniqueness of the course content (including a research module) and the fact that I would be among the first few subject specialists sparked my interest to pursue this degree.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable? What modules did you like learning about and was there anything that surprised you in your studies? Indisputably, I enjoyed the research component the most. Apart from the research, I particularly liked the “minimally invasive dentistry” module which involved content related to the preservation of the tooth structure. The quality of research being carried out at Queen Mary and Barts was surprising for me. It generated an interest in me to perform innovative research in order to find answers to unanswered scientific questions.
Why did you choose to study at Barts and the London in particular? The quality of the courses offered by Barts was the main reason. In addition, the global recognition of graduates from Barts and staying in a cosmopolitan city like London also influenced my decision.
What was it like living and studying in London considering you now work and live in Saudi Arabia? Living and studying in London was a fantastic experience. It was exciting to be part of the student community again and sit on the other side of the lecture hall after a break of almost three years (in which I was teaching dental students). I live and work in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which is similar to London in many aspects. It is the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and it is also a multi-cultural city. The best part of London and Dammam are the people who are friendly, welcoming, and supportive in nature.
Can you describe your career path up to date and touch on your current role? After completing my internship from Baqai Dental College, Karachi, I joined my institute as a Clinical Demonstrator in Restorative Dentistry. I then moved to London to pursue my postgraduate studies. While still in London, I was offered a job from one of the most prestigious institutes of KSA i.e. Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU, Formerly University of Dammam). In 2012, I joined IAU and I am now working as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, IAU. Apart from my current job, I also regularly review for many leading scientific journals and I am voluntarily working as part of the editorial team of two dental journals.
How has your work been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how have you had to adapt? COVID-19 has affected the whole world. Due to this pandemic, face-to-face teaching and clinical activities in our institute ceased in March 2020. The teaching activities resumed online immediately and clinical activities are expected to resume soon. COVID-19 affected the research part of my work. Fortunately, at this time of the year, most of my lab work is usually completed and I am just analyzing results and doing the writing part. After completing this part of my work, I took this time to research COVID-19 and write some review papers on its different aspects. I researched this topic extensively and to date, I have published six research papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals related to COVID-19.
How did your time and study at Barts and the London help your career and development? I will always owe my career growth to Barts, especially in terms of my research performance. The experience I gained during my studies inclined me towards performing research while being an Academician. When I left Barts I had no research publications, but after nine years, I have published more than sixty research papers (with 30+ total impact factor) and book chapters that have acquired over six hundred citations. I won the Best Oral Presentation Award in the 2012 IADSR Conference, Karachi, Pakistan. I was also the recipient of the IAU, College of Dentistry’s competitive “Best Researcher Award” in 2017.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? I would like to advise students to pursue the course which they are most passionate about. This way, they will enjoy their studies forever. I would also advise them to be involved in ground-breaking research. Research is the field which gives you global recognition and an opportunity to innovate novel things. Through research, you can team up with researchers in other parts of the world, build fruitful collaborations, learn from each other, and contribute to scientific literature.
Why is it exciting to do what you do? My current job involves teaching dental undergraduate and postgraduate students, treating patients in clinics, and performing research. Teaching students and treating patients brings a level of satisfaction that is unparalleled. However, I would still rate “research” to be the most exciting part of my job. Going to the lab to discover something novel is the most thrilling part of my job and I enjoy it the most.
What was special about your time at Barts and the London? Meeting and interacting with students from all over the world was a very special experience. Being taught by the instructors who are the best in their respective fields provided an excellent opportunity to learn new things from them. I am still in touch with most of my course mates and former instructors. In collaboration with my instructors, I have published many research papers. I am also currently editing a book related to Oral Histology with one of my former course mates and course convenor (Prof. Paul Anderson) from Barts. This book is being published by a leading book publisher from the UK in the field of medicine/dentistry. Additionally, there is a website (eLearning platform) being developed for this book targeted at technology-savvy students. We hope that this book will assist dental students to understand Oral Biology and Histology in an uncomplicated way.
This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Officer, Sara Gazi. If you would like to get in touch with Dr Imran Farooq or engage him in your work, please contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.