Stories from our students: Becki

Rebecca Green, an NIHR Maudsley BRC funded PhD student at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, is a successful applicant in the  Enrichment scheme at The Alan Turing Institute. This placement allows students to join the Turing giving them the opportunity to access the facilities, find new collaborators for their research project and learn and apply new methodologies.

We spoke to Rebecca about why she applied, and what she hopes to gain from the scheme:

I'm a second year PhD student with a passion for translational bioinformatics, data science and animal gifs.

My desire to be a researcher at King’s College London led me to explore statistical genetics, data analytics and mental health via a fabulous MSc at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre. In-between my studies at Bristol and London, I worked in clinical research as a Research Officer for the NIHR Clinical Research Network. This has all led nicely to my current PhD project (even if it didn't appear so at the time)!

I am currently investigating the role of metabolites (small molecules that are the products of biological events, e.g glucose) as biological markers of early dementia.

As part of this, I am also looking at the influence of life course factors such as smoking and diet using the densely phenotyped MRC 1946 British Birth Cohort study. It’s hoped that this could be useful for identifying individuals at risk of dementia and informing interventional strategies, as well as providing insight into underlying biology.

My favourite aspect of my PhD has got to be data analysis, I love the problem-solving aspect and seeing the progress in my coding abilities. I also have a really wonderful relationship with my team; listening and learning from them has been a great highlight of my PhD so far.

I am particularly keen for the opportunity to work at the Turing in the same space as leaders in a diverse array of fields to learn the problem solving strategies they apply to their research interest.

As metabolomics is a relatively new field, I think my research could really benefit being informed by different perspectives. The Turing also supply you with a high spec laptop which will be extremely useful, as my computer often sounds like it’s about to take off..! These, alongside collaborative and training opportunities, were big drivers for me.

My first paper is almost ready for submission, as well as many others from my team, so we have been working hard on those!

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be moving on to looking at neuroimaging markers of dementia with the MRC 1946 cohort which I’m looking forward to. We’ve also registered our interest to help with a few COVID-19 related studies, including DECOVID at the Turing Institute, so it would be great to help in any way we can. Other than that, lots of teaching, marking and virtual conferences are on the agenda!

The NIHR Maudsley BRC have been an excellent source of support, training and guidance. For example, my first experience of the programming language, Python, was accessed through internal BRC training, and I have attended countless courses since. Carrying out a computer-based project, it is often hard to engage with patients to communicate your research and gain new insights and suggestions.

The BRC have regular public engagement events and Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) groups to ensure that this is not a hurdle, and have provided a great network of resources and helpful individuals to ensure that I have had access to the training and advice that I need.


Tags: Training & capacity development - PhD students -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 28 Apr 2020, 09:59 AM


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