UCL Institute of Health Informatics


The UCL IHI Student Experience: #2 Nat Na-Ek

6 September 2019

The UCL Institute of Health Informatics offers a range of postgraduate study programmes and students benefit from being at the centre of a unique hub of biomedical and informatics research expertise. Here, one of our current students shares their thoughts on life at the UCL IHI.

Nat Na-Ek

Nat Na-Ek is currently a PhD student at the UCL Institute of Health Informatics. Prior to joining the IHI, Nat worked as a Univesity Lecturer at the University of Phayao. We asked Nat some questions about what it is like to study at the UCL IHI:

What project are you currently working on?

I am currently working on triangulation of evidence from electronic health record (EHR) cohort trials, and Mendelian randomisation to examine the association, and potential causation, between blood lipids (i.e., LDL-C, HDL-C, and TG) and the risk of heart failure and atrial fibrillation. My future plan is to expand the outcome to non-CVD, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson, diabetes, COPD, etc.

What excited you about the project?

It is very exciting to have the opportunity to use three different study designs (EHR longitudinal cohort design, meta-analysis of rensomised controlled trials and medelian randomisation) to answer one research question. I have to apply many statistical techniques and it becomes more challenging, especially when findings are not consistent across designs.

What made you choose the UCL IHI?

I am into an epidemiological study using big data (n>1 million). Therefore, IHI, where all experts and resources for the big data (CALIBER) are available, is the perfect choice.

What is your favourite aspect of being a student at the UCL IHI?

IHI provides good courses on big data for MSc students and my supervisor agreed for me to attend them for free (without examination). Also, being an IHI student allows us to work on the big data for free which would otherwise be expensive. In addition, lots of members of staff with a variety of expertise here at IHI are helpful if you struggle with anything.

I'm proud and honoured to be a UCL student. Being a foreign student did not make me feel isolated and differentiated. I am always supported by colleagues, members of staff in our department, as well as those in UCL. In addition, UCL provides an excellent opportunity for a foreign student to take some of the language courses for free, which is really helpful.

What has been your greatest achievement here so far? 

I plan to submit my PhD ("Contributions of higher resolution observational evidence from electronic health records to understand the causal relevence of blood lipids to heart failure and atrial fibrillation") work to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journals soon. More importantly, each chapter of my thesis is publishable.  

What advice would you give to prospective students considering a course at the UCL IHI?

If you are interested in medical research on big data or machine learning in medicine, IHI is the perfect place for you.

What will you do once you finish being a student at the UCL IHI?

I plan to apply my knowledge and skills gained during my PhD to do research in hospitals in my country (Thailand) to improve health-care and quality of life of Thai people.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

More than half of your success in PhD depends on your supervisor, so choose wisely. When choosing a provisional supervisor, you should not make a decision based solely on his or her papers. You should also talk to current students under his or her supervision to get more insight into his or her style of mentoring.

To find out more about the learning opportunities we offer at the UCL IHI, visit our study pages. 

If you have any questions about coming to study here email the education team.