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ICH Student Profiles


    Child Health Research PhD student profiles

    Raasib Mahmood

    Raasib Mahmood image

    "My name is Raasib Mahmood and I studied MSc Neuroscience at Nottingham University. I became fascinated by the developmental processes that occur in utero to form an embryo and how perturbations in these processes lead to fatal or debilitating defects in the developing child. I took this opportunity to join the Developmental Biology of Birth Defects section at ICH, which provides a research focus for scientists and clinicians to make inroads into the questions of pathogenesis and prevention of congenital malformations. I joined the Copp-Greene Laboratory in 2017, known internationally for their expertise in animal models of birth defects. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here; my supervisors and peers were supportive and motivating such that I now find myself pursuing a PhD. My PhD addresses an intriguing question in the field of nervous system development and disease: Why does the brain fail to close more commonly in females than males? Studying at ICH has provided many opportunities to improve my research and transferable skills. The academic knowledge at ICH, together with its research and learning opportunities, and regular work and social meetings provides a platform to be inspired, expand knowledge, and employ the tools needed to become an independent researcher."

    Diana Rosenthal

    Diana Rosenthal image

    "My name is Diana Margot Rosenthal. I graduated with a BA-MPA from NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study and Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in the Health Policy and Management Program (’16) and a MSc in Demography and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (’17). I have coordinated many international research projects with a focus on health inequalities, health policy, health behavior, health promotion, shared-decision making, patient-provider interactions and chronic conditions. Currently, I am exploring my research interests including child health, inclusion health, mixed methods, citizen science, co-production and sustainability. My PhD explores barriers and facilitators to optimal health and health services access for homeless children under age 5 in temporary accommodation in Newham. ICH has provided me with the opportunity to build and expand my research and transferrable skills while working as an independent researcher with the support of a multidisciplinary supervisory team led by Professor Monica Lakhanpaul so that I can work collaboratively across disciplines including the creative arts and public engagement to improve health outcomes. My supervisors have supported me as I further my career through publications, teaching and co-leading in grant writing. I also serve on the GOS ICH Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee to ensure that there is a ‘Voice for All’ through equality and equity for everyone to develop to their full potential and be acknowledged for their contributions, while promoting a culture of acceptance. I plan to explore post-doctoral training opportunities and continue work in the field of inclusion health with vulnerable populations that are often left invisible in the eyes of the public, government and research community."

    Laurette Bukasa

    Laurette Bukasa

    “My name is Laurette Bukasa. I graduated with a BSc in Chemistry at the University of Manchester, and an MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.  I am a second year part-time PhD-staff student in the Population, Policy and Practice Research and Teaching department. I am working on an epidemiological project looking at the health and survival of children HIV-exposed and uninfected in the UK using surveillance and administrative data sources. The research community at the Institute and UCL is vast. A great benefit of studying here is that you are amongst those leading in their field, and so exploring alternative areas and approaches to your own research is made possible. There are a wealth of opportunities to train outside of your specific research area, and to enhance your skill set for life after study, through courses both unique to ICH and as part of the UCL Doctoral School. You are also never short of avenues for inspiration through regular events hosted by both internal and external colleagues. Studying at ICH will equip me both with world-class training by the best in the field, and a network that will follow me on my journey long after I leave. I believe that your network can be in some cases, as important as your education and cultivating relationships with fellow students and academics can be beneficial for both your career and your personal development. I anticipate that following my studies, my experience at ICH will have facilitated significant growth in both areas.”


    iBSc Paediatrics & Child Health student profiles

    This BSc is one of the most unique and diverse offered by UCL and does not disappoint! Highlights include the opportunity to experience life on the wards and clinics of Great Ormond Street Hospital, follow the journey of a family with a newborn baby and simulate acute medical scenarios. This BSc is challenging but equally rewarding and allows for great personal and clinical development.

    James Williams, iBSc 2014-15


    MSc in Cell & Gene Therapy student profiles

    Lorna Fitspatrick

    Lorna Fitzpatrick (2011-12)

    "Previously obtaining an undergraduate degree in genetics and cell biology, I was looking to find an MSc directed at developing skills in cutting edge cell therapeutics. The MSc offered at UCL provided a unique opportunity to study in an environment that is at the forefront of developing gene therapy for a broad spectrum of diseases. The course focused on clinical and molecular aspects of cell therapies and also provided modules that are fundamental to developing a career in science, such as statistics and a mandatory laboratory project. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCL. The academic and administrative staff were friendly, obliging and dedicated to supporting the students. The class size was small, ensuring that all students were fully engaged and discussion with the lecturers was encouraged. Excellent external speakers were brought in from a broad spectrum of scientific backgrounds and we were given some insight into different career fields. The practical research module was highly beneficial for building on basic lab skills and techniques as well understanding the process involved in executing an independent project. Based on the experiences gained during the MSc course, I decided to stay within this area and have begun a PhD in stem cell biology upon completion of the degree. Undoubtedly, without the qualification from a research centre of excellence and the exposure to academics within this field, I would not be in the position I am in now. An MSc is a great way to meet and work closely with professionals and UCL has excellent resources to provide an enjoyable and worthwhile experience." 

    Shashank Shrishrimal

    Shashank Shrishrimal (2011-12)

    "After my BSc in Biotechnology from India, I was looking for international exposure and a chance to work with leaders in the field of stem cell biology and gene therapy. The MSc course in Cell and Gene therapy at UCL was a perfect match for my academic interests and provided me with this opportunity. UCL, being one of the best universities in the world, lived up to my expectations and provided an environment for maximum learning within one year. The program initially, provides enough time for international students to adapt to the new environment and meet their course mates. Help is always available at the university and institute if it is required. At the Institute of Child Health (ICH), Professor Christine Kinnon and Dr Mona Bajaj-Elliot helped me understand the new system of education, which is completely different from my home country, India. The modules of the course are designed to give you a good base in the field of biomedical research and provide you with key skills that are essential to any researcher, before entering the laboratory. It gives you an update on the latest progress being made in various genetic and infectious diseases, by researchers working on a given disease. Every presentation is aimed at exposing the student to different areas of research as well as building a complete understanding of a subject (Like the module on Research methodologies and Statistics). The module on applied genomics is one of the most challenging modules of the program and the most satisfying at the end of the course. The presentations given during the HIV module, stem cell and tissue repair module, and molecular aspects of cell and gene therapy module kept me excited throughout the course, about the future possibilities of developing treatments for diseases.  The course also helped me understand the challenges in the field of gene therapy, and the rigorous safety and regulatory requirements for its application. The laboratory experience at the Molecular Immunology Unit (MIU) - ICH, till date has been unmatched. Dr Paolo De Coppi, gave me an opportunity to work on his project on induced pluripotent stem cells, providing me complete support for my progress. Within a short span of 16 weeks, I successfully completed two research projects, only due to availability of all facilities and excellent mentorship by Dr Sayandip Mukherjee. From having absolutely zero research experience to being confident enough to complete any given research project, would not have been possible without this degree. I would like to thank, Professor Christine Kinnon and Dr. Steven Howe for this course, and would highly recommend it to future students who are interested in biomedical research and are looking to make a successful career in research. Being the first one from India to finish a specialized course in gene therapy, it has helped me get noticed by recruiters and secure a PhD position at University of Nebraska Medical Centre (UNMC), Omaha."

    Srinath Rajaraman

    Srinath Rajaraman (2012-13) 

    "My fascination towards advanced cell therapies and personalized medicine prompted me to pursue my Masters degree at UCL. A chance to study and work alongside the pioneers in the field of cell and gene therapy was too alluring and in the end I was well rewarded for my prejudice.  The Masters course was programmed to introduce the students into the ever burgeoning fields of advanced cell therapeutics at a molecular and clinical level along with modules designed to shape up one's competency level for a career in research. The quality of Professors and other lecturers from various prestigious institutions created an intellectually stimulating environment in classes followed by interactive sessions. The varying modes of assessments for different modules ensures an overall development of the students character towards science. The final mandatory lab project provides an opportunity to work alongside an excitingly collaborative scientific group with the flexibility and prospect of choosing a project in one's particular field of interest. Continuous guidance and support from the faculties and  administrative staff makes one feel at ease and regular meetings are conducted to ensure a comfortable academic year for students.  I personally felt inspired and motivated at the chance to work along-side the big names in the field of cell and gene therapy which further improves one's visibility and future prospects. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCL and with the knowledge and experience gained thereby going a long way towards securing my Ph.D in the field of gene therapy. I would thoroughly recommend this Masters program for those students who wish to be involved in the exciting field of translational science and UCL provides the perfect launch pad for such budding scientists."

    Physiotherapy

    Read more Physiotherapy student profiles

    MRes in Biomedicine

    Bettina Hartleb (testimonial MRes Biomedicine)

    Bettina Hartleb (2014 - 2015)

    Research Assistant, Department of Haematology, UCL Cancer Institute
    "My decision to pursue a Master of Research in Biomedicine at the UCL Institute of Child Health in the year 2014/15 was one of the best I have ever made. I was drawn to this programme because of its extensive research element comprising two projects which involve a total of nine months of hands-on research experience. Although the demand for excellence and proficiency - including in the exhaustive statistical analysis required of me for my research project data - was initially challenging, the expert direction by my project supervisors and the excellent guidance I received from the programme director and course tutor allowed me to complete the programme with a great sense of achievement. Looking back, I would say that doing the 'introduction to critical analysis' and the statistics modules, as well as having to make presentations on various topics, served me best to become the confident scientist I am today. I am currently employed at the UCL Cancer Institute as a member of the research staff, where I continue to grow in my profession and strive to make a significant contribution. This MRes programme is one I would recommend to anyone wishing to become a better scientist than they are today."

    Cristina Tommasi (MRes testimonial)

    Cristina Tommasi (2013 - 2014)

    Current PhD student at UCL Institute of Child Health
    "I undertook the MRes in Biomedicine at UCL Institute of Child Health in the academic year 2013- 2014. The choice of this Masters programme was mainly motivated by its research component: 9 months of the course were dedicated to research projects! I undertook the mini project in Dr Ryan O'Shaughnessy's lab working on viral infections of skin and the maxi project in Dr Mona Bajaj-Elliott's lab investigating the microbe-mediated regulation of intestinal and epidermal barrier function. I also found the taught modules very interesting: "Foundations of Biomedical Sciences" which gave us an overview of the variety of research ongoing in different groups around ICH and "Research Methodology and Statistics". I particularly enjoyed the module "Understanding Research and Critical Appraisal: Biomedicine" as I found it very helpful in improving my writing and presentation skills. These skills proved to be extremely valuable in the PhD that I started at ICH immediately after the MRes."

    Diana Yanez Marcayata

    Diana Yanez Marcayata (2012 - 2013)

    Current PhD student at UCL Institute of Child Health
    "After I finished my MBBS, I successfully applied for a scholarship in my country Ecuador, to start the MRes Biomedicine degree in the academic year 2012 - 2013. This MRes was divided into two terms. During the first term I received outstanding lectures related to some of mechanisms that cause human diseases, and the strategies for their prevention and treatment. In my second term, we had the opportunity to choose two research projects. My mini project was "The role of Hedgehog signaling in erythropoiesis", and my maxi project was "The role of the transcription factor FoxA2 in T cell development". At this stage, I was introduced as part of a research team. Professor Tessa Crompton closely supervised these two projects. By having taught module lectures in the first term, I acquired basic knowledge. When I moved into the second term, I developed experimental knowledge and different lab skills. This combination made this programme particularly exciting. By the end of this MRes, I gained in-depth lab skills, which enabled me to continue with a PhD in the same lab group. The programme was well organized. Supervisors and tutors are friendly and they value our feedback very much. These particularities created an exceptional environment for me as international student. The programme was well organized. Supervisors and tutors are friendly and they value our feedback very much. These particularities created an exceptional environment for me as international student."

    Lisa Gerner (2011 - 2012)

    PhD student at University of Oslo 

    "The MRes in Biomedicine at the UCL Institute of Child Health combines cutting-edge research and a high-class education with a very social environment, right in the centre of London. The course provided excellent lectures delivered by top researchers from ICH and small class sizes made it very easy for all students to be fully engaged. The main elements of the MRes were two research projects which could be chosen from a wide range of topics throughout ICH.  I have carried out one of these projects with Ryan O'Shaughnessy at the Immunobiology Unit. We studied the interaction of the two proteins Connexin 43 and Zonula Occludins-1 during epidermal barrier acquisition using immunohistochemistry with subsequent laser scanning confocal microscopy. The supervision was excellent, the laboratories well equipped and the infrastructure brilliant with the opportunity to work within core facilities in the same building. I should also mention that the project led to two publications! All staff, both academic and administrative, were friendly, very helpful and determined to provide students with the best support they could give whether it was guidance in the lab or help with organisational issues. My excellent experience during the MRes gave me the confidence to proceed in research and I began a PhD directly afterwards for which the skills I've learnt at UCL are still highly beneficial."

    Gehad Youssef (testimonial MRes Biomedicine)

    Dr Gehad Youssef (2008 - 2009)

    Current Research Associate, Department of Cancer Biology, UCL Cancer Institute
    Former PhD student at UCL Institute of Child Health
    "I undertook the MRes Biomedicine degree in the academic year 2008 - 2009. I found the course very engaging and exciting. What appealed to me most was the 9 months laboratory component of the course. I completed the mini project (Title: Mucosal immunity to Neisseria meningitdis) under the supervision of Dr Mona Bajaj-Elliott. My maxi project (p53, SHP-1, TrkA, and phosphorylated TrkA (Y674/Y675), expression in primary ductal and lobular breast carcinoma) was conducted under the supervision of Dr Ximena Montano. We also undertook modules in Research Ethics and Professional Development. Moreover, Professional Development was assessed by a portfolio that demonstrated our development throughout the MRes. The MRes has helped me to prepare to undertake a PhD by providing the opportunity to think as an independent researcher and enhancing my confidence to work in the laboratory. Importantly, the maxi-project has allowed me to gain authorship in two research publications. I would absolutely recommend the MRes Biomedicine course to any student wishing to embark on a research career. We also undertook modules in Research Ethics and Professional Development. Moreover, Professional Development was assessed by a portfolio that demonstrated our development throughout the MRes. The MRes has helped me to prepare to undertake a PhD by providing the opportunity to think as an independent researcher and enhancing my confidence to work in the laboratory. Importantly, the maxi-project has allowed me to gain authorship in two research publications. I would absolutely recommend the MRes Biomedicine course to any student wishing to embark on a research career." 

    MRes in Child Health

    Pornchanok Wantanakorn (2016 - 2017)

    "I decided to choose the MRes in Child Health, instead of an MSc, under introduction from the Programme Director Dr Katy Pike, since it offered a mid-way degree between MSc and PhD. The benefit I got from this programme was research skills. I did my research project on the subject of children with autism under the supervision of Dr Michelle De Hann and Helen O'Reilly. My supervisors helped me to conduct research with those children with special needs and their parents, and gave me feedback to improve my skills. Another advantage of this MRes was that it provided a compulsory basic statistic module and an epidemiology in child health module which were both useful for my project. I think this course is suitable for students who are deciding which career path they would like to take; researcher or clinician.

    For me, after I finished the MRes, I went back to my career as a developmental behavioral pediatrician in Thailand. However, I'm still using research in my career path and my experience of MRes in Child Health at UCL it is very helpful for me."

    Atul Palakattil (2016 - 2017)

    "In my eyes, the world of research nurtures curiosity and identifies realistic possibilities and potentials to change lives for the better. I needed to be a part of it and where better to gain experience, knowledge, and skills other than at a world-renowned institution such as UCL. After completing my medical studies and having envisioned medical improvements in the field of Paediatrics and Mental Health I pursued a Master of Research in Child Health. The course schedule allowed me to settle into the programme at my own pace and the programme offered additional guidance and support in terms of improving my skills in statistics, writing, and leadership. As my main research project, I was part of a team that considered autism and the effects of emotion recognition training on visual attention. I particularly enjoyed meeting the parents and the children who took part in the study as well as working with the team in charge of the study. The skills and knowledge I have gained from this experience are invaluable and I aim to use them in my career as a medical doctor. I recommend this course to anyone within the scientific community with a curiosity or interest in research."

     

    MSc Child and Adolescent Mental Health

    Jane Kennedy (2016-2018) 

    I applied for the UCL MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health to support a career change into the area having worked in business and market research for over 20 years since graduating in psychology and biology. The MSc has given me an understanding of current theory, research and practice across a wide range of areas within the field, and also taught me how to critically appraise academic research papers. The lecturers were leaders in their field and also often NHS practitioners; I found the anonymised case discussions an extremely valuable link between theory and practice. The students came from a diverse range of jobs and countries (mental health nurses, teachers, special needs support, paediatricians etc.) and it was helpful to learn from their experiences during group discussions. For my dissertation I analysed data from an adolescent psychiatric unit to understand the drivers of change in outcome for the young people there.  I received an enormous amount of support in achieving my goals throughout the course and I would strongly recommend this Masters and UCL as a place to study.

    I was keen to move into clinical practice and my placement as an assistant psychologist at an NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) gave me practical experience which was invaluable alongside the Masters when I came to apply for training jobs.  After graduating I got an NHS funded IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) recruit to train post which is training me as a specialist psychological therapist for children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.