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Public Engagement

INSPIREd student – Zain Amir

30 April 2013

Zain Picture crop 20130430

Yesterday, we hosted Zain Amir as part of the INSPIRE programme. Zain helped in the lab and heard about research from Liam Morgan, Beth Walsaby and Ceri Jones. I asked him to write about his experiences and this is what he wrote:

Being a medical student, you are asked from the onset of your interview for Med School to justify: why you want to be a doctor – and why not a teacher, nurse or even researcher? We all take the same stance – we want to be in a career that’s more active, more in touch with helping people. My INSPIRE taster session with the CLL Research Group at Cardiff University would strongly challenge this statement.

I started my day at the Cancer Genetics Building, having done some pre-reading / pre-googling of certain aspects of CLL research and I felt comfortable with what I understood about the condition. However, I quickly became amazed with the almost frenzy of angles that were being taken by the researchers and staff to find out more about CLL.

From transcription factors to cell surface proteins to the genetic configuration of the disease to creating model lymph nodes, I was being introduced to different ideas that I hadn’t even thought could be possible for research. Not only that, research techniques such as flow cytometery –  which in a Medical Student’s mind after a few SSC essays turns into one of those words which you know you’ve read in paper but don’t really know what it means – makes so much more sense when you actually see one in real life.

This multidisciplinary focus on CLL Research was inspiring especially to see so many different approaches in action, all aiming to solve the same problem. This made me draw comparisons with how each speciality of the healthcare profession work together to treat the whole patient. By talking to a Clinical Academic Fellow, research doesn’t seem as far from “being a doctor” as we think. In fact, one quote by Clinical Fellow Ceri Jones which I feel is relevant to any medic, including myself, thinking about going into research is that “as medics we can often have a different and relevant view at research because we will bring our patients and what the disease means to them, along with us into the Research Lab”

As doctors and future doctors, we are given the privilege of our profession but the true credit goes to the days spent in the lab and the immense amount of number crunching that goes on by people to give us the techniques and medicine that we learn and use daily. Maybe it time for us to earn our privilege.

Overall this was an exhilarating day – to come and see the variety of ideas flowing around the place. The people I’ve met were more than welcoming and eager to share their time with me.
So Thank You – I’ve learnt tonnes!!

Zain Amir
2nd Year Bristol Medical Student


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