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Clinical DPhil (2009)

Pathway to a Clinical DPhil

Sara completed her undergraduate medical training at the University of Khartoum, Sudan. On returning to the UK, she continued her clinical training, completing her Pre-Registration House Officer and Senior House Officer rotations at Swindon and Bournemouth & Poole respectively. Following this Sara moved to Oxford as a Specialist Registrar at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM). As a clinician Sara encountered a patient with a chromosomal rearrangement resulting in a genetic form of obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome. This encounter sparked her interest, and upon discussions with colleagues Drs Fredrik Karpe and Anna Gloyn, Sara designed a research proposal and applied for DPhil funding grants. After a few grant applications, Sara secured funding from Diabetes UK for a Clinical DPhil investigating genetic endocrine disorders.

What does the work involve?

Sara has been able to perform an in-depth study of not only the original patient’s family but another family with a different chromosomal rearrangement, resulting in insulin resistance. During her research Sara has identified the genes that are disrupted and their roles in both diseases. She has also set up a clinic in conjunction with Dr Karpe to identify and treat patients with another genetic endocrine disorder, familial partial lipodystrophy. Sara is also investigating the mechanism of fat growth, by comparing benign tumours of fatty tissue, lipomas, with adjacent fat tissue. Understanding these mechanisms may be critical in treating and controlling obesity. Sara regularly presents her findings at seminars and conferences and is in the process of writing several papers for publication, including review articles for highly respected journals.

Why Oxford?

Sara was already in Oxford working as a Specialist Registrar in at the OCDEM, a centre with a strong track record for research excellence.

"Taking time out to do a DPhil has been one of the best career decisions I have made to date. It has strengthened my knowledge of research techniques and applications and given me much better ability to critically appraise published articles. It has also changed my approach to understanding physiology and trying to solve diagnostic dilemmas."