Months of hustling away on research projects in my own free time finally bore fruit this term, with several project abstracts getting accepted to conferences across the UK and in Europe. This site of mine has been up for a few years now but I’ve only recently decided to make use of it. Thus, I’ve decided to share these experiences on my site, because in the words of Austin Kleon in his book “Share Your Work“:

“…in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. We all have the opportunity to use our voices, to have our say, but so many of us are wasting it. If you want people to know about what you do and the things you care about, you have to share…”

EU-CardioRNA Working Group Meeting (Maastricht, NL)

This mini conference took place in a very pretty student city in the Netherlands, Maastricht. Got some serious Cambridge vibes, with the bikes, bridges and medieval buildings. This was a rather niche conference but was nevertheless incredibly interesting due to some high quality science being presented.

Cobbled streets and old buildings – can this city get any more Cambridge?

I learnt that the field of cardiac transcriptomics research is full of promise, with several molecular pathways underlying pathophysiological processes being understood as well as increased focus being placed on the non-coding aspects of our genome.

Cardiologist and research group leader Professor Roger Foo from the National University of Singapore delivered an excellent talk on a novel long intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) called VentHeart (VHRT) which determines ventricular cell fate of cardiac myocytes, and presented some patch clamp data showing how VHRT knockdown alters action potential morphology; this no doubt excited the cardiac electrophysiologist in me. In addition, he’s also a Cambridge alumnus and I had a fantastic time chatting to him about his research and career advice for clinical academia.

With Prof Foo

Finally, I got to present a poster of the cumulative efforts of my intercalation year research project. This has been published and the papers on Pgc-1b knockout mice can be found here.

Two years of work in one poster at last!

All in all, had a wonderful time and it was also the first trip I had taken abroad completely solo without friends and family so was a great experience!

Cambridge Cardiology Conference and CUSCRS-INSPIRE (Cambridge, UK)

Last November I spent four weeks at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, attached to the cardiothoracic surgeons and getting to see some incredible surgery. Coming out of this placement I wanted to get involved in some clinical research so began collecting data on outcomes of cardiac surgery in patients with renal transplants, under the supervision of cardiothoracic surgeon Mr Jason Ali. Some of this preliminary data was presented at the two student led conferences mentioned above. This was quite the valuable warm-up experience, since the feedback and suggestions I received from faculty have been instrumental in preparing this project for presentation at the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting later this month. Watch this space for more updates on the project!

Additionally, the Cambridge Cardiology Conference was something I helped organise as co-conference coordinator of CamCardioSoc (along with the ever-talented Jamie Ho – follow her on twitter, she’s an incoming academic foundation doctor in London due to start this August!). It was such a fun day and we had some inspiring talks from leading clinicians and scientists in the field. See more about the conference here.

Public speaking – still giving me sinus tachycardia
With the organising committee of CamCardioSoc and our wonderful guest speakers Dr Rouchelle Sriranjan and Dr Rohin Francis

What’s next?

I had presented at two conferences before this term, but these few weeks of intense activity presenting my work and meeting such a diverse crowd of people has taught me so much and helped build my confidence and presentation skills! I now look forward to two more conferences before taking a break from research meetings to focus on my end of year exams. As mentioned above, SCTS 2020 will be later this month, and so will the European Heart Rhythm Congress in Vienna for which I will be travelling to present some work I did with the cardiac electrophysiologists at the Royal Papworth last year. Thanks for taking the time to read this post if you’ve got this far and I’m more than happy to help you with advice if you want to get involved in research as a medical student 🙂