Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Spotlight: Monica Koo, Final Year PhD student

24 August 2017

monica-koo-fphs com/mmkoo12" target="_blank">@mmkoo12

What attracted you to study at IEHC? UCL's reputation for being a highly collaborative research environment was a big draw. Also, my current primary supervisor Dr Yoryos Lyratzopoulos had just moved to the Health Behaviour Research Centre (HBRC) (now Dept of Behavioural Science and Health) led by the late Professor Jane Wardle, and I saw great potential in combining both epidemiological and psychosocial approaches to improve cancer outcomes.

What do you like about your area of research and why? My PhD looks at the presenting symptoms of cancer and intervals to diagnosis. I am using data collected as part of a national audit, and so have access to unique information on symptoms and intervals for around 18,000 patients who were later diagnosed with one of 28 different cancers. The underlying motivation of this research is to improve cancer outcomes through earlier diagnosis but it also aims to contribute to the evidence base of public health interventions and clinical interventions. Knowing that my research could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public health policy and practice is very meaningful.

What did you do before you programme of study began? I worked as an Epidemiologist in a business intelligence company.

What piece of advice would you give to new IEHC research students? Familiarise yourself with the organisational structure you sit in and make the most of the support networks that exist for early career researchers - like the Institute Early Careers Forum (@IEHC_ECF). Identify your strengths and try to align your project to these to maintain motivation. Remember that a PhD is time for training and skills development as well as research: be mindful of how far you've come since starting as well as how far you have to go and don't be too hard on yourself!

Tell us something surprising about yourself I grew up in Aberdeenshire and so consider myself partly Scottish - which explains my love for Irn-Bru bars and ceilidhs…

Where do you identify as home? Having escaped the Granite City at 18, London is my adopted home.