In Spring 2017, the Centre for Public Engagement piloted a new Community Engagement Grants scheme, for QMUL staff and stduents to develop community initiatives responding to the needs of the local community. The team at William Harvey Research Insitute piloted a work experience programme. Below, Adewale Kukoyi, Brampton Manor Academy, London shares his experience being aprt of the programme.
1 October 2018
My initial interest in medicine began due to my enthusiasm in STEM subjects as well as my natural willingness to help and listen to others’ problems. Learning about how a malfunction in the general control systems (pancreas gland) of the human body has shown me how prone we are to degradation. This interest grew and was cultivated by finding out there had been a long line of diabetes mellitus type 2 in my family. The role of a doctor therefore would hopefully give me the intellectual privilege to work out the best way to preserve a life, like the many in my family.
I have also been intrigued by the power of science to improve the lives of humanity through the discovery and manufacture of pharmaceuticals. I’ve always wanted to explore the meaning of an “academic clinician” and gain an understanding of how the fundamental principles of science are applied in research. This as a result, spurred me on to apply for work experience at the William Harvey Research Institute.
I was already beginning to look forward to the programme with perks like patient interaction and shadowing on offer! The programme gave me an insight into the cardiovascular research hub that is the William Harvey Research Institute. Our experience was divided into three centres: The William Harvey Research Institute, The William Harvey Clinical Research Centre and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. We were introduced to the programme by the organisers Ade Alele and Dr Rayomand Khambata. Then the history of the institute was told to us by the Co-director: Professor Amrita Ahluwalia. I was proud to know that we were the pilot scheme of students in such a renowned institute for research! The tour of Barts Hospital included a visit to the pharmacy, the Chemotherapy section and a live MRI of the heart which was demonstrated by Dr Clement Lau.
After lunch, we then had a series of mini lectures on the cardiovascular and inflammation research that is being conducted at the institute. One lecture to note was by Professor Magdi Yaqoob; who not only spoke about his area of research but his journey as a young aspiring medic to cardiothoracic surgeon. This was very inspiring for me as he shared how he overcame numerous challenges to be in such a position. We then took part in a lab practical on drug concentrations under the supervision of Dr James Whiteford. This enhanced our lab skills as we had an opportunity to practice using specialist equipment such as the reliable Gilson Pipette and a precise colorimeter.
The days that followed were composed of shadowing and patient interaction. We were split into groups and went to the John Vane Science centre to begin. I shadowed an analytical chemist and a microbiologist. Both of their research were centred around cardiovascular and inflammation and how they are making a contribution to possibly creating a novel treatment. This exposed me to the challenges in research; every sample is precious and could make a difference. Following on from the busy shadowing we went back to the centre to engage in another busy day. This time it was at the clinical trial unit where we had mini workshops on the EPQ, met patients involved in clinical trials and had a tour of the clinic itself.
I would strongly recommend this programme for anyone interested in learning more about research or deciding whether a career in research is for them. It has given me scope and enhanced my knowledge about the clinical trials process. I’d like to thank Ade, Ray and all those involved for making this an enriching experience!