Project: Using whole genome sequence data to develop molecular bar codes to profile Plasmodium malaria parasites
What were you doing before you joined the MRC DTP scheme?
I studied an undergraduate degree at the University of Nottingham in Biochemistry and Genetics. After completing this degree, I moved on to studying a masters degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Medical Parasitology. I applied for my MRC PhD whilst studying my masters and began the following September.
Why did you choose your primary institution (LSHTM or SGUL)?
I had studied my masters at LSHTM and really enjoyed the working environment and already knew and got on with researchers working in my field at the school, so it felt like a natural fit for me.
What do you enjoy most about your day-to-day work and the people you work with?
I really enjoy the feel of LSHTM, it is a small institution, and you recognise the majority of people working and studying at LSHTM. I also enjoy that everyone has the same interest in global health, so you would be able to have an interesting discussion with the majority of the staff at the school!
What do you value most about the MRC DTP studentship?
I value the emphasis the MRC puts on personal development. This is shown in the ability and encouragement to partake in as much training and development outside of your research group as possible. This is further supported by the MRC financially as well if needs be, with flexible funding that you can apply for extra courses and training.
What additional training have you attended with MRC DTP money?
I have used the MRC money to attend the BioMalPar conference in Heidelberg, Germany. I also used the flexible funding to fund my 3 month placement in Tanzania. In addition to this, as a group of MRC students, we organised a public engagement event where we visited schools to showcase different careers in public health and the MRC helped to fund some of the costs involved (alongside a public engagement grant from LSHTM).
Where did you go on your placement? What did you do?
I travelled to Mwanza in Tanzania which is a region just south of Lake Victoria that suffers with malaria transmission. I was involved with a research group called PAMVERC which develop and test insecticidal compounds to prevent mosquito feeding and therefore malaria transmission. During my placement I was involved in the testing of three novel insecticidal bed nets through various activities:
– Determining the success of distribution of these nets through identifying which households had received and were using the nets correctly
– Determining the malaria prevalence in regions using different nets through childhood screening in schools
– Investigating the mosquito populations in the study sites
– Investigating insecticide resistance in the mosquito population
Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP scholarship applicants?
My biggest tip would be to make the most of the training opportunities available and the money available from both the MRC and your institution.