Dr Alex Mentzer
Clinical DPhil (2014)
PATHWAY TO A CLINICAL DPHIL
Alex completed an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and a masters in molecular medicine at Imperial College London before studying medicine at UCL (University College London). Throughout his higher education Alex was always interested in genetics and the implications that genetic variation had on clinical disease. It was these interests that led to him undertaking his Academic Foundation training at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital working in Professor Chris Mathew’s group. It was here that he started to become familiar with techniques employed in modern human genetics research.
During his clinical training he found that his clinical interests were predominantly focussed on infectious diseases and so, with the experience gained from working at King’s College London (Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital), he approached Professor Adrian Hill here, at Oxford, in order to develop a project that would have implications for future practice relating to infection.
Following funding of pilot work by the OUCAGS, Alex has been awarded further funding from the Wellcome Trust through the Oxford Clinical DPhil scheme to continue his work into understanding the genetic determinants of vaccine response.
WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?
Alex is looking forward to starting his DPhil in October 2014 but has spent two years in Oxford undertaking the pilot project which helped source funding for his novel research idea. He was able to undertake a range of courses at Oxford that helped him develop skills in statistics and bioinformatics in preparation for starting his higher degree. He has also regularly attended the Academic Medical Forum, which is a unique platform to discuss ongoing research and network with other researchers from all levels, ranging from undergraduate to professor. He has also taken the opportunity afforded by research to become an active teacher on Advanced Life Saving courses at Oxford as well as organise the annual module in Virus and Immunology Research in Entebbe, Uganda, which forms a part of the East African Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He also continues to work as a registrar in acute general medicine in his spare time to keep his skills up to date.
Adrian Hill’s lab in Oxford was one of the only centres in the country that undertook large-scale human genetics work in the context of multiple infectious diseases and it was this that made Oxford Alex’s ideal place to undertake a DPhil. The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, in particular, offers a unique combination of support from world-leading statisticians, bioinformaticians, immunologists, clinical vaccinologists and microbiologists, and these networks have helped make Alex’s research ideas a reality.