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Xin Hui Chan (2016-2020)Xin Hui Chan speaking into a microphone

Project: The Cardiovascular Toxicity of Antimalarial Drugs

Supervisor: Prof Nick White, Prof Nick Day, and Prof Brian Angus

Lab team

 My first experience of malaria was while volunteering in rural Kenya as a first-year medical student. The teenagers at the school we surveyed were familiar with the disease and how to prevent it, but when the rains came, still their younger siblings died one after the other. It didn’t seem right to me that an eminently curable disease like malaria should be allowed to kill so many.

I trained in medicine at the University of Oxford. My Final Honours School year was a mix of studies into the neuropharmacology of memory, the immunopathogenesis of dengue fever, and viral entry mechanisms into mammalian cells. Electives with the infectious diseases inpatient service at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and the tuberculosis team of the Medical Research Council Laboratories in The Gambia ignited my interest in applied clinical research, while student advocacy with the Oxford Global Health Group on access to essential medicines and pandemic preparedness opened my eyes to the importance of translating this research into policy and practice.

Following several years of postgraduate medical training during which I gained Membership of the Royal College of Physicians as well as a Masters in Infectious Diseases and the Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, I had the opportunity to take time off from infectious diseases subspecialty training to work on malaria elimination at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, Thailand. Starter projects on antimalarial resistance and safety grew into a regional genomic surveillance network and a global evidence review on the cardiovascular safety of an entire class of antimalarial medicines. I stayed on for a DPhil with Professor Nick White during which time I also served as rapporteur and technical consultant to the WHO Evidence Review Group on the Cardiotoxicity of Antimalarial Medicines, and was involved in several clinical trials and field studies alongside coordinating a global evidence synthesis collaboration contributing evidence to the WHO.

With DPhil funding from the MRC and Nuffield Department of Medicine, I was able to spend an intense and rewarding few years at the frontline of malaria research at the global epicentre of antimalarial resistance. In addition, MRC-DTP supplemental funding secured me access to essential high-cost statistical modelling training including support for intercontinental travel to and from Southeast Asia.

I remain passionate about eliminating malaria and translating the best evidence into practice. I am now applying the skills gained in evidence synthesis, statistical modelling, and clinical trials from my DPhil to COVID19 pandemic response efforts in Oxford and at the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases where I am continuing my clinical subspecialty training.

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