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WHAT YEAR ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR PHD ON?

I’m in my second year, studying pain in hand osteoarthritis. My primary supervisor is Professor Fiona Watt. We are studying hand pain trajectories in different populations and trying to identify potential predictors of these pain trajectories, with a particular focus on the menopause and changes in sex hormone levels. As part of my PhD, I am establishing a clinical observational study and analysing data from existing cohorts. My DPhil is funded by a Clinical Research Fellowship from Versus Arthritis and a Clarendon Scholarship.  

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO A DPHIL AT THE KENNEDY INSTITUTE?

I studied medicine at Imperial College London, where I intercalated with a BSc in Cardiovascular Sciences. Since then, I’ve trained in London and I’m currently a Rheumatology & General Internal Medicine Registrar. Having worked for a number of years, I came to appreciate that although hand osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis affecting the hand, our knowledge and available treatment options are limited. I’d heard Fiona talk at conferences and was interested in her research and keen to work with her. The reputation of NDORMS and the quality of research and support was also a huge draw.   

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DPHIL STUDENT AT NDORMS?

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn here. The DPhil in Musculoskeletal Sciences starts with two weeks of lectures (half-days), which gives an excellent grounding in musculoskeletal research. Throughout the terms, there are regular courses, workshops and seminars from internal and external speakers. Academics have a wide range of backgrounds with plenty of opportunity for interdisciplinary learning and collaboration. I couldn’t think of a better setting to research musculoskeletal disease! 

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DPHIL STUDENT AT OXFORD?

I am slightly unusual as a student in that I commute from my home in London, rather than living in Oxford. This has meant that I haven’t been able to attend many of the lectures and social events organised in the evenings. My college (Wolfson) and NDORMS organise family events, which it’s been great to have access to. I commenced my DPhil immediately after a break from clinical practice for maternity leave. I have felt well supported by the University and been able to work less than full time. 

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

Don’t be put off if you haven’t done something before, there are plenty of opportunities to learn. Remember that you bring your own set of skills and specialist knowledge, try not to feel daunted by everyone else’s expertise.