Dr Rajinder Andev
Academic Foundation Programme (2018)
Pathway to an AFP position
Very early at medical school I noticed I had a strong interest in immunology. I delved into this area through my research and intercalation. I assessed the efficacy of broadly-neutralising antibodies when both binding and non-binding glycans were removed from the HIV-1 Envelope protein. This endeavour promoted the acquisition of key research principles and scientific techniques that I thoroughly enjoyed. This transformed my trajectory towards academia. I became fascinated with the refreshing and logical approaches I witnessed within the laboratory and found these were translatable to epidemiological studies. Further research activities have helped identify my specific area of interest: the pathophysiology of autoimmune diseases. For these reasons, the AFP was the natural step after medical school.
What does the work involve?
My academic time was formed of a four-month block during FY2 and one day a week during a single clinical rotation in FY1. The dedicated block in FY2 suited my plans of working in science as it promoted continuity and therefore increased the volume of work completed. My work centred on establishing the role of a protein in Crohn’s disease pathophysiology.
Completing a taster week with the Oxford Rheumatology department increased my awareness of local research activity and encouraged me to apply for an Academic Clinical Fellowship. Throughout foundation training, I have attended courses hosted by OUCAGS and some clinically relevant courses, for example, a programme that develops the skills to utilise ultrasound in Rheumatology.
I relished teaching emergency medical presentations to final year medical students and remodelled a session as part of Oxford University’s FY1 Survival Course. Flexibility in my academic time increased the amount of teaching I could deliver.
I have worked on the following two research projects:
Role of HE4 in Crohn’s Disease
Here I performed and managed a series of experiments to elucidate the role of HE4 in Crohn’s disease pathophysiology. I demonstrated that HE4 has antimicrobial activity and is down regulated in goblet cells in the terminal ileum, which correlates with disease area hotspots.
I am working within a team to appraise literature and attempt to devise a scoring system to aid with the diagnosis, prognosis and management of patients with suspected septic arthritis.
Oxford stands as a centre of pioneering research with a strong record of supporting clinical academics. This, in combination with the flexibility of the AFP programme, formed my rationale. The unique aspect of choosing your project increases the breadth of research opportunities available – this is advantageous early in the clinical academic career. OUCAGS offer excellent encouragement and training, as evidenced by the Essential Skills course. The funding available is generous and is a source of further support that I have used to attend courses.
What have been the pros and cons of the AFP, and how has it shaped your future career plans?
The AFP is fantastic in providing dedicated time to pursue research. This is paramount in developing key skills and having a chance to consider future options. Along with conducting studies, the AFP permits ample opportunities to attend courses and seminars, teach and network with renowned members within academia. Having engaged with these activities, my ambition for a career in research has grown. My next career stage is an Academic Clinical Fellowship in Rheumatology.