Associate Professor of Paediatric Haematology
Department of Paediatrics
Tell us a bit about your role
I currently lead a research group based at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM), and our main aim is to understand the origins of childhood leukaemia, especially the treatment resistant subtypes such as infant leukaemia. We focus on unravelling how these leukaemias develop before birth, and whether this is important for the biology of the disease.
I am a Paediatric Haematologist, and trained first as a Paediatrician (in India and then UK), before focusing my clinical and academic career in Paediatric Haematology. My interest in the origins and biology of childhood leukaemia was triggered by a CRUK fellowship (2003-2004) during my paediatric training. Since then, I have worked in the field of developmental haematopoiesis and leukaemia. My previous academic placements include: LLR Clinical Training Fellowship (PhD 2007-2011, Imperial College London); NIHR Academic Clinical Lectureship in Paediatric Haematology (2011-2015, Imperial College London) and Bloodwise Clinician Scientist Fellowship (2015-2019), University of Oxford). My research programme is currently funded mainly by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship, but also supported by funding from CRUK, Leukaemia UK, MRC and Children with Cancer. I have been lucky to be able to combine my research with clinical Paediatric Haematology throughout my career.
My long-term career goal is to work as an academic paediatric haematologist. As part of this role I would like to lead the integration of research findings into clinical practice through national and international trials for treatment of childhood leukaemia, including low and middle-income countries. Being embedded within the Medical Sciences Division (MSD) at Oxford, provides me with the ideal scientific and clinical environment to perform high quality research, including the necessary infrastructure for global outreach. I am surrounded by collaborative and supportive mentors and peers, who allow me to thrive within the excellent research and clinical framework of the department. I am passionate about training the next generation of clinician scientists; and play an active role in mentoring and nurturing this group within MSD.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
As a clinician scientist, the overarching aim of my research is to be able to deliver a clinically meaningful improvement in outcome for children with treatment resistant leukaemia. Finding ways to understand how these leukaemias develop, and identifying their key vulnerabilities in order to develop effective therapeutic strategies is the most meaningful aspect of my work.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
I am most proud of the mentorship and help that I have been able to offer to junior researchers, students and clinical academic trainees. It gives me immense pride to celebrate their successes- however big or small!
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
Medical Sciences as a whole has come a long way in the past 100 years in terms of equality and diversity; however there is still much to be desired for. I would like now to see more of equity and justice so that the barriers faced by many in this field are abolished fairly and systematically. Not just for access to the system, but also for progression within the system. We have to be able to attract, recruit and retain the most passionate doctors and researchers, regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities or socio-economic background. I hope within the next 100 years, nobody has to feel under-represented when they walk into a room, regardless of their career stage. Every person in the Medical Sciences field needs to commit to make this possible; the responsibility of enabling change should not fall mainly on the under-represented, as it often does.
Secondly, I hope that Medical Sciences will strive to bridge the gaps that exist in healthcare and research delivery between high income and low and middle-income countries. The best possible health outcomes should be within the reach of every person in this world; and not just the privileged few.