Class of 2014, News

Award winning graduate sets his sights on academic career

Thomas Lemon celebrates becoming a doctor this week, hot-on-the-heels of what has been an award winning undergraduate career for the aspiring academic. 

Dr Lemon - graduate picNot content with juggling the demands of a full-time medical degree Thomas, or Dr Lemon, has got used to picking- up national awards for his research and teaching efforts.

Recently, Thomas was selected as one of the top four students in the United Kingdom by the Royal College of Psychiatrists; secured the Royal College of Surgeons and British Burns Association (BBA) Jackson Award, awarded at Cambridge University; and received The David Oliveira Medical Student Award, awarded at the Royal Society of Medicine.

Furthermore, he was awarded a coveted Fellowship to the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries earlier this year.

In the last few weeks he’s secured the Lymphoma and Leukaemia Research Prize and a British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) award for his outstanding work.

“The two most recent national awards are firstly the Lymphoma and Leukaemia Research Award, which was awarded for work looking into cancer causing and cancer treating viruses,” said Thomas.

“The concept of treating certain cancers with viruses is a promising one. Cancer causing viruses are also of great importance. Clearly if we know of viruses causing cancer we can try and vaccinate against them.

“We found that a virus called HTLV1/2, which causes a form of leukaemia, is more frequently transferred to infants through breast milk than perhaps previously thought. As the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact, this is of importance in the global health arena.

“The British Association of Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery award was for my ongoing interest into burns treatment. We looked at children affected by conflict, who are now adults, and assessed the psychiatric support they had received to deal with physical scars.

“The forthcoming papers promise to assist with management plans for paediatric burns and other physical trauma victims,” he added.

Thomas has also been involved in wide ranging research from looking at kidney tumours, surgical interventions through to bedside teaching encounters in his time at Cardiff and has been published in both student and medical journals, as well as winning and being shortlisted for more than 40 international, national and regional prizes.

Dr Lemon has presented his findings at many key international and national conferences, and has made global efforts to help other students find themselves in academic interests through his position as Vice President of the United Kingdom Medical Students Association.

Furthermore he, alongside a colleague, has produced medical education resources to make freely available to students worldwide, demonstrating a commendable commitment to teaching.

One resource, looking at aiding students to memorise cranial nerves, has been downloaded more than 25,000 times from areas all over the world and has received multiple awards and commendations from heads of Royal Colleges and medical students alike.

After graduation, Thomas aims to follow a career in academic medicine, and has been offered an academic foundation post, starting next month.

“I will be moving to York to commence clinical work as a medical doctor and to work under some leading academic surgeons on an academic foundation programme. Whilst doing this I should be continuing postgraduate studies with some Swansea academics in the field of tissue regeneration – so Wales will still play a central part in my career progression.

“There are many niches within medicine, and it’s impossible to be good at them all – I definitely have my weaknesses.

“For me medical academia enables me to pursue an area of interest, whilst also feeling like you are a making a difference.

“The dissemination of your work is always rewarding, and to receive feedback, good or bad, shows your work is having an impact or at least making people think about the area you are studying.

“For anyone interested in academia, the ‘eureka’ moment, when your data comes together and you think you really do have something is the feeling that encourages you to continue, and with the new C21 curriculum there promises to be increasing opportunities for students to engage with the encouraging senior academics located within the School of Medicine at Cardiff” he adds.

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