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Associated Projects

Rare inherited anaemias

others in related specialties

Dr Onima Chowdhury, CL in Haematology

CL in Haematology

Dr Noémi Roy (2013)

Pathway to a Clinical Lectureship

Noémi’s longstanding interest in medical research has continuously led her to seek out opportunities to pursue this interest alongside her medical training.  She started by taking a gap year prior to university to work in a cardiology genetics lab in  Paris.  During her medical training at the University of Edinburgh, she also spent a summer working in a cardiology research lab in Canada and 6 months in a respiratory lab for her BSc project, studying the resolution of inflammation.  

These early research experiences put in her path some key mentors who have inspired and guided her through the years as well as given her an idea of the rigours of basic scientific research.  However, it was not until she completed her clinical training and started looking after patients that she realised to what extent clinical care and scientific research can be symbiotic and that she decided to pursue the dual role that academic medicine encompasses.

After SHO jobs at the Hammersmith, Brompton and Hillingdon, Noémi settled on Haematology as a specialisation, training at UCH until she came to do her DPhil in Oxford.  


What does the work involve?

Noémi has been in her NIHR Clinical Lecturer (CL) post for nearly a year. She feels that the post has really given her the opportunity to get involved in some work that would otherwise not have been accessible to her in the diagnostic lab as well as some dedicated time to spend setting up a research project.

Noémi started her clinical attachment with 6 months in Molecular Diagnostics, where she has been setting up a new diagnostic test for inherited anaemias using high throughput sequencing strategies. This has given her important insights into issues particular to diagnostic as opposed to research laboratories. In addition, it has allowed her not only to be involved in the development of a new diagnostic test that will change patient care, but also to start setting up the infrastructure that will support further research, both for herself and more generally for the department. Noémi has been able to start some active collaborations which have already led to some results, and has been able to successfully apply for additional funding.  She has also given medical student tutorials as part of the Laboratory Medicine Course.

Noémi will be starting two years of full-time research in summer 2013, trying to better understand the role of LPIN2 (a gene that is mutated in a rare type of inherited anaemia) in normal red blood cell development. What has worked so well for her within the context of the CL post is the way in which her clinical work in molecular diagnostics has really been integrated with the research which she has been setting up: patients that come through the diagnostic stream lead to further research and the results of some of the research projects then alter the test that can be offered in the diagnostic lab.  It is translational medicine in both directions.

What Noémi has found hardest is how to manage to spend enough time working on her research while having heavy clinical commitments, but this has made her see the reality of choosing an academic medical career.  Having this dual involvement has strengthened her plans to pursue a career that will involve both clinical work and research, and having the opportunity to do some work in a diagnostic lab has opened up for her this possibility which she had not previously considered.  It has also made her see a new side to improving patient care, because people tend to think of that more in terms of new therapies but, in fact, new tests for patients can make a real impact.  It can help doctors categorise better which patients will respond to particular treatments. 


Why Oxford?

Having started her Haematology training in London, Noémi  came to Oxford for her DPhil on a Wellcome Trust Clinical Training Fellowship.  What attracted her to Oxford was the topic which she was planning to research as well as the unparalleled world class science in her host lab, led by Prof Doug Higgs. She studied DNA methylation anomalies in malignancy and took away with her not only an array of techniques but the grounding for how to approach a problem and think clearly about the data generated by experiments. Once here, what really struck her about Oxford was the vast range of skills and expertise at one’s fingertips and the real opportunities there are for cross-talk between disciplines. She has found it very fertile ground for thinking more deeply about her topics of interest and for making progress in several directions at once.


January 2013