What’s a typical day like?
A typical day involves working on drafting different kinds of documents, evaluating the best ways to address feedback from different authors of the study, team meetings, and meetings with researchers from the pharmaceutical companies. On days when there is less work, I read to stay up to date on the current research in the field.
What is it you love the most with this job?
What I like the most about this job is that it is intellectually stimulating as I get to learn the latest research in the field. I am working on helping patients by disseminating information about cutting-edge research and treatments for these debilitating diseases, which motivates me every day. Also, I like working with a team having a common goal.
How does your work benefits society?
My work benefits society through effective communication with scientists and medical practitioners about research on the latest treatment strategies that can help patients with chronic diseases like breast cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic kidney diseases. This gives these medical practitioners the knowledge about the latest treatments e.g. a new cancer drug therapy regimen that has fewer side effects than they can prescribe to their patients who may be suffering from side effects from another cancer drug.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
In my second postdoc, I studied the role of a small brain area, lateral habenula, and how differences in its activity make some people more vulnerable to addiction. You may have noticed that some people get bad hangovers after drinking alcohol while others can drink a lot but still do not have much of a hangover. I found out with my experiments on rats that lower activity in this particular area of the brain may be responsible for no hangovers in some people after drinking alcohol, which in turn made them more vulnerable to abuse alcohol with time. I found this research one of the most fascinating questions I have studied in my research career.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
My advice would be to focus on building your network. Many people who I knew through my network have helped me along at different stages of my career. Do not be afraid or shy about reaching out to people whose work interests you. Most people are very willing to help out with any career advice.
Also, read and listen to stuff beyond your current subjects. As you get to know about the different kinds of stuff people do for a living, you may find unique opportunities that may spike your interest as a career option.
Finally, be a risk-taker, do not hesitate to go into something you want to, but are afraid of, because it is too new to you.
My future plan is to merge my interest in neuroscience, psychiatry, and medical communication to be able to become an expert medical communicator that communicates about the latest clinical research on neuropsychiatric illness.
This is the concluding part of the interview.