Medically trained, after completing a diploma in tropical medicine and international health, I worked as a clinician and in public health in resource limited countries for several years with an international charity. During these years I became interested in program and patient evaluation to improve patient care and management. I therefore did an MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), worked as a clinical research fellow for several years at the LSHTM and did a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Nottingham. As I was completing my PhD work, I started working as a clinical epidemiologist for one of the evaluation branches of the international charity ‘Doctors without Borders’ (MSF) and led monitoring and research activities related to HIV in over 20 countries for several years, one year being employed by the University of Bern in Switzerland as part of a collaboration with the charity, and one year based at the University of Lyon in France.
In October 2012 I joint UCL as a Senior Research Associate and became member of the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research in London. In this position I led epidemiological work to develop a cardiovascular research platform in health informatics. In 2015 I obtained a University Academic Fellowship in Health Informatics from the University of Leeds, and joint this University in September 2015.
My current research and interests are the conduct of pharmacoepidemiological and applied risk prediction research and the optimisation of use of existing data to improve care of patients with chronic diseases and multimorbidity and to reduce health inequalities. I also continue supporting some projects in resource limited countries. I am working hard to make progress in my academic fellowship, expanding my network and research and acquiring further teaching experience, and I hope to obtain a career development research fellowship before the end of the year to be able to recruit and support my own research group.
I am very grateful to Prof Richard Hayes at the LSHTM, who was my tutor during my MSc and with whom I worked later. Although our backgrounds are different and my career path needed to be developed elsewhere, he awakened my interest in becoming a researcher and encouraged me to do so. I also admire him as a researcher and for the fair, generous and supportive manner with which he treats those working with him. Unfortunately, I did not have other mentors, and sometimes I have found this quite hard and demotivating. Profs David Beech and Ann Morgan, both working at the University of Leeds, agreed to be my mentors recently and I very much appreciate their advice and encouragement.
My advice to young women looking to pursue a scientific career is that it is important to understand what you want and your priorities. Learn as much as you can and try to get the best of every experience even if it is hard. Be smart and know when and how to leave a place/job and make sure that you keep close contact with people who support you. Make choices that help you to acquire the skills and experience that you need to meet your objectives, be patient, focused and opened to take advantage of opportunities for training and work that are interesting for you or can be useful.