CL in Haematology
Dr Onima Chowdhury (2016)
Pathway to a Clinical Lectureship
Onima studied undergraduate medicine in Cambridge before completing her clinical training in Oxford. At this stage she was already very interested in research and worked in the Tuberculosis Immunology Group in Oxford, before starting her SHO rotation in London. Haematology always fascinated Onima as it provides such a great interface between clinical care and laboratory research. She joined the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine (WIMM) in 2010 and undertook a Wellcome Trust Clinical DPhil Fellowship, characterising and targeting the stem cells, which drive myeloid malignancies. She also took part in the American Society of Haematology - European Haematology Association Translational Research Training in Haematology programme. This provided unique training, mentoring and collaborative relationships with young scientists from both sides of the Atlantic.
What does the work involve?
Onima’s doctorate taught her the skills necessary to perform her own research within the support structure of the WIMM and her laboratory. The CL post provides protected time, which she is using to build her own research network and questions, and to seek her own funding. Without such dedicated time, this would be extremely challenging alongside full-time clinical work. Onima arranges her clinical and research time in 3-6 month blocks, continuing with on-call commitments throughout. The advantage to this system is that the blocks enable her to fully focus on either clinical or research priorities at any one time. The disadvantage is that it does not clearly enable her to develop a strategy for intertwining the two into one simultaneous career at a Consultant level.
As everyone will attest, juggling clinical training, research and the rest of life is tricky but the CL post allows you to test the water with regards to pursuing a career as a clinician scientist. It has confirmed that Onima very much want to continue along this track, whilst enabling her to see a variety of ways of combining science and clinical practice in the long term.
The Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine is at the international forefront of haematopoietic research and alongside an inspirational and expanding clinical department. Both provide an incredible environment for clinical research. Onima is surrounded by the expertise and tools she needs to take her research forward and improve patient care.