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Meet the Medical Genetics graduate: Mariam Hafidh Abbas

In this blog, we spoke to Medical Genetics graduate Mariam Hafidh Abbas from Iraq who was the course representative of Genetics and Medical Genetics.

Why did you decide to study Medical Genetics at Queen Mary?Mariam

I actually started my path studying Medicine back where I live. I decided to apply to London for a course which I was really interested in. My parents supported me immensely with this shift and I wouldn’t have done it without them. I found out that Medical Genetics programme at Queen Mary included modules that focussed on cell biology and genetic disorders and thus it was a perfect fit for me. I’m really enjoying my final two years in particular as the course material goes into lots of details on the different aspects of genetics.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I really enjoyed the lab sessions as they are mostly practical work. I also like the workshops, where we were provided with certain cases of an affected person’s karyotype (chromosome numbers and arrangement) and we needed to work out what disease the person had. In terms of lab work, we started with the basics such as how to use a microscope and a micropipette but we also for example looked at worms that can regenerate, which I found quite fascinating. I’m a person who really enjoys communicating with others and I felt within the labs and workshops, I was able to use this skill a lot.

What are your plans for the future?

I have big plans for my future. I would like to become a genetic counsellor as it combines my scientific passion with communication. Genetic counselling involves advising couples who might be affected with a genetic disorder on the risks and probability of conceiving a child with a genetic disorder. A genetic counsellor works directly with families and patients to offer genetic information and assess the level of risk in addition to advising them on how to reduce or manage that risk. Thus, I aim to pursue this by undertaking a master’s degree in genetic counselling and then continuing in the research field by taking a PhD in a research area of my interest.

Do you have any advice for other students?

I think it’s important to take part in extra curricular activities while you’re at university. I enjoyed my role as a student representative on the Genetics and Medical Genetics programmes, taking part in regular meetings with academic staff and the Head of School to represent my peers. I was also a committee member of two societies – the Arab society and the recently founded Iraqi society. In my free time, I love volunteering and Queen Mary offers lots of volunteering opportunities. It’s very important to balance your studies with other interests and activities as they help to build your personality. Finally, I would say try pursuing your dreams no matter how impossible they seem because you will get there if you put your mind to it.

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