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Tell us more about your role: what do you do and how did you get to where you are now?

Rizwana RashidMy current role enables me to support practical set up and assist teaching for MSc and undergraduate practical in the Department of Pharmacology.

I completed my first Master of Pharmacy from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1998. I have studied the alkaloids present in a traditionally used medicinal plant, Albizzia lebbeck and evaluated their pharmacological profiles. I started my career as an International Marketing Executive in pharmaceutical company in Dhaka, Bangladesh; then switched to research and teaching. I was an academic visitor (2010-2015) in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford; and a full time/part time teacher for GCSE Science and A level (Chemistry and Biology) in Sixth Form Colleges (2012-2020) in Oxford.

After multiple career breaks, a second time scholarship from University Oxford in 2018 (along with a previous scholarship from University of Cambridge in 2008), from Prof. Fran Platt’s lab in Pharmacology was a miracle for me. I did my second MSc (by research) on Development of Small Molecule Therapeutics for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) Disease. The project identified analogues of curcumin with a virtual screen using shape and electrostatics and predicted bioavailability. We also developed and validated a high content cellular screen for endolysosomal trafficking defects using a cell model of Niemann Pick C disease and determined the activity of the top-ranking compounds from the virtual screen in the high-content cellular screen.

I am so very grateful to my family and friends for their unconditional love and support for my daughters and me. No words are enough to say their contribution. I will be forever in debt to my father and my three brothers.

In future, I would like to pursue my career in the rewarding field of biomedical research and academia.

What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?

I feel I am influencing the future by helping the students gain transferable skills. It is about building confidence to help them with the drive to succeed. I am extremely lucky to be able to work in a fun, creative setting while ground-breaking innovative research is happening all the times.

Can you tell us about something you’ve done, contributed to that you’re most proud of?

I am so very grateful to Allah for my two teenage daughters, Fariha and Adiba. They are the best thing that ever happened to me. Fariha wants to pursue Biochemistry and Adiba aspires to be a lawyer.

While I was the voting delegate for University of Oxford in National Student Conference in 2018 as chair of Students plus (mature student society of University of Oxford’s Student Union), the experience helped me to redefine and share my concept of success with fellow students from a global perspective.

I am also very humble to be a part of the magnificent team that crowdsourced the fund to establish the first Harun Ur Rashid Memorial Scholarship for doing Masters at the University of Oxford in 2018-19 for outstanding Bangladeshi students in honour of my father whilst I was completing my MRes degree at Oxford. I dream of continuing the scholarship and look for funding to support this teamwork venture in future.

What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?

I think precision medicine will be a feature with huge data sets on large populations held in electronic health records (EHRs) that includes input from physiological monitoring, we can already see them emerging in management of chronic diseases and of guidelines for prevention and fitness. Quantum leap might come from inferences of data from compact and interactive therapeutic and monitoring instruments that are extensively connected to the health information infrastructure.

Furthermore, complex diagnostic and prognostic categories will emerge. The multivariate descriptors of large populations will allow cutting edge stratification that are already being used in the most recent genomically informed clinical trials. Everyday patient care will be based on inputs from ongoing clinical observations and from new research and this will lead to development of new and continuously modified management algorithms. I do hope that clinical decision support algorithms will be derived entirely from data rather than expert opinion, market incentives, or committee consensus.

Ample knowledge of disease, prevention, and effective treatment will be an essential part of any society.  More transparent primary data along with analytical tools necessary to re-analyse, test, refine the ongoing studies, especially for the new therapies, will be unrestricted by increased demand of scientists, physicians and public. Advanced data security must guarantee protection of privacy while providing detailed information about each person.

We will observe more efficient use of resources for patient treatment and research-rich countries will work together globally towards basic health care as an efficient tool to promote the much-needed stability and peace.

I believe that the high technology, information-rich medicine of the future will continue to make inspirational discovery and we will learn from nature.