OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH! I can;t believe how lovely you all are!! I will put the money to good use and update you if I can (might take a few months)!!!!xxx
1993-1998, Bexleyheath School
1998-2001 Liverpool Univeristy BSc Pharmacology, 2006-2007 Imperial College London Masters in Public Health
Odd jobs I’ve worked: McDonalds, Chinese takeaway, Chinese herbal practitioner, music theatre in Liverpool. 2002-2006 James Black Foundation where I worked as a pharmacologist. I was helping to design a new drug to block acid reflux in the throat which then leads to cancer.
Chronic diseases Epidemiologist
Imperial College London
Favourite thing to do in my job: I get to find the answers to my own questions. Sometimes the more obscure the question, the more interesting the answer!
I try to find links between what people eat, drink, do (exercise etc) and are exposed to, and long term diseases such as cancer.
Have you ever wondered about these sensational stories we hear every other day in the media, from the radio, newspapers and TV etc, that one day a particular fruit/vegetable/exercise/gene can do miracles, cure cancer and make you live forever; the next day the claims are rubbished. Confusing isn’t it?
Well as a chronic-diseases epidemiologist, I do the investigative work behind such headlines. I have access to information that was collected in half a million Europeans (see map for where they live) about what they eat and drink, how much they exercise, what they do for a living and many many other things, together with what diseases they developed later on, or ultimately, what causes they died of. I am searching through this wealth of data and trying to find if an exposure (ie diet, exercise, genetics) is linked with a particular outcome (diseases, deaths). By trying to avoid the pitfalls, I can make sure my findings are relevant to as many people as possible.
My Typical Day
Number crunching at the desk, meetings, discussions, emails, phone calls, students!
I am lucky to have an easy going Boss and a fairly flexible timetable, so it doesn’t matter if I am early/late by a little bit as long as I do my hours and all the work that’s due; however tight deadlines are quite common.
I meet regularly with my colleagues so we can discuss our problems and try and come up with ways to solve them together. or we just update each other on our progress. I am currently helping a colleague with her climate change project in Bangladesh, since she is there doing fieldwork quite often.
Typically, I would be working on some data, designing statistical models that fits the pattern of information and figure out what the sea of numbers are telling me. Whatever results I find I need to make sure that there are viable theories from the scientific community to support them, so onto the journals I go and I look through the scientific articles other scientists have published. Usually these are full of inspirations! Then I write this up as an article which I will submit to journals to publish.
During the term-time, I do a little teaching to Masters students or 4th year medical students. My last session was about the obesity epidemic in China, a topic the student found fascinating since people from the developing countries are picking up the Western habits of eating loads and moving less, which is really affecting their health!
Quite often I will have to answer emails from some of my collaborators in an EU project to do with air pollution and lung cancer. Or we have a huge telephone call with more than 10 people on the line and try to shout over each other to get heard, since many people are from countries all over Europe and it’s not easy or environmentally friendly to meet in person, think of all the CO2 from all of the plane trips!
Lunch and breaks are scattered throughout the day so I can replenish my brain, can’t work when I’m hungry! After work I have London at my leisure, I go to restaurants, or to the theatre, and quite a few museums open late towards the end of the week, perfect!
What I'd do with the prize money
To set up an knowledge dissemination event in Bangladesh to the pregnant women who are at risk from drinking too much salt from groundwater.
I support my colleague, Aneire Khan, who is conducting research into how climate changed-induced sea-water intrusion at the coastal regions in Bangladesh is affecting the health of pregnant women.
The drinking water there are mainly brought from tube-wells dug into the ground which contain very high levels of salt from the sea-water. The increase blood pressure brought on by this high salt intake are especially dangerous for pregnant women, as it can put theirs and their babies lives at risk.
A workshop was ran in September last year to make the local women aware of these potential dangers, so that they can change their behaviour and improve their health. This can be as simple as drinking rain-water collected in various vessels instead of well-water.
With the money we will be able to contribute towards running another workshop this autumn, communicating the new results from the past 12 months. We also want to highlight that seeking healthcare during difficult childbirths needs to be thought about beforehand to ensure the best outcomes.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Imaginative, free-spirited and a little scatty
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
To have articles published in scentific journals; one of them took 2 years worth of work!!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I kept getting told off for talking too much
Who is your favourite singer or band?
The Smiths, some say that they are depressing but I think the words are funny
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I once joined in a world record attempt for the largest coconut-shell orchastra in Trafalgar Square: http://is.gd/sB2qGB
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be able to speak 15 languages and play the piano; to be able to comminicate with animals; and to be happy!
Tell us a joke.
What did the 0 say to the 8? “Nice belt!”