Sunday, June 26, 2005

Changing direction


I know I’ve been pretty lousy with updating the blog. A lot has been happening though, and I am determined to keep you in the picture. In fact, I've been composing posts for a qhile now, but just haven't gotten near a computer.

Anyway, recently I've had a bit of a career alteration. A couple of months ago I was offered a chance to do an intercalated three-year PhD before completing med school. I was successful in my application, and will begin tomorrow! My research project will be looking at developing a technique called diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging as a modality to look at premature babies' brains. We can now save babies born very prematurely, but unfortunately many of these suffer significant long-term learning and behavioural problems. My supervisors think that this is probably due to abnormal brain development in the ex-utero environment, so I will compare temporal changes in a part of the brain called the subplate in premature and term babies. We will then explore what can be done to improve long-term prognosis. It's an exciting project and I'm looking forward to starting. I am worried about how much medicine I'll forget in the intervening period, though. Now I won't graduate until 2010! How will I keep up to date??


Wednesday, June 15, 2005


This past week, I’ve been preparing desperately for a potential PhD, so I’ve spend most days (and some nights) in the library. This weekend, though, I’m off on a training weekend organised by the youth division of the St John Ambulance. It’ll be great to be with friends and to get away from London for a while, if only to Lee Valley, a place not reknowned for anything in particular. There will be two days of ‘fun-filled’ activities, refreshing our first-aid knowledge and giving us some leadership training. I sometimes feel I don’t step up to the plate when called upon, but I’ll use this opportunity to try and take some more responsibility within the group.

Hope you’re all having a good summer.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Studentship success!

I just heard from the interview panel. Successful! Woo hoo! I'm so happy. As long as I get a first or an upper second for my BSc (results out later this week), I'll be starting the PhD next month. I don't need a holiday when I can start something as exciting as this. My friends still think I'm mad though. Imagine, my year group in med school will be already senior house officers and could be teaching me when I rejoin.

Hope you're enjoying the break. Keep in touch.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Meeting the team

I met the rest of the neonatal imaging team yesterday, and talked about the project I would undertake if I was successful. I'm even more excited now. The group all seem really nice and very willing to help a newbie out. All I've got to do now is to pass the interview with the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre panel on Monday. Part of the interview will entail presenting a journal paper to the panel. I've decided to present a paper on the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging to explore the development of different parts of the neonatal brain, but I don't know anything about the field yet. Am scared. Very scared.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

PhD again

This sounds interesting: I just read through the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre's Neonatal Imaging group's website. The work they do,
"combines molecular and cellular approaches with non-invasive magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to investigate tissue abnormalities and brain damage in premature newborn and pre-term infants, with a view to improving diagnosis and testing new therapeutic interventions".
It sounds fascinating, and I've arranged to meet the head of the team tomorrow afternoon. I'm not sure if they've got any PhD opportunities already in place, but fingers crossed!


Saturday, June 04, 2005

PhD meeting

Today was the PhD information session. The Prof in charge told us a little about the program, but the overwhelming impression was that this year the whole process is a bit of a mess. The opportunity was in response to the General Medical Council's Modernising Medical Careers directive, which recommends that med schools give willing and able students the chance to coming a PhD with their medical studies. But the College's response seems to have been late this year, and many of the divisions that would potentially have med students are as confused as we are about how we apply. Nevertheless, this week I'll look at all the webpages of each of the research groups offering a studentship, and if I find any that are dong an interesting developmental neurobiology project I will find out more. The Medical Research Council's Clinical Sciences Centre have their PhD interviews next week, so I'd better get cracking! As expected though, my mum is against me doing the studentship before finishing med school. And most of my friends think the same. What do you think?