Five medical students win prestigious bursary awards

Five medical students win prestigious bursary awards

Five Aberdeen medical students researching areas such as infection prevention, cancer and chronic pain have secured prestigious bursary awards to assist their studies.

Iyabo Adekunle-Olarinde and Jenna Shepherd received Wolfson Foundation awards, which assist outstanding undergraduate medical students who are likely to pursue a clinical research career. Ross Porter, Joanne Pryde and Rachel Vaughan received bursaries from the Pathological Society, the Jean Shanks Foundation and National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia respectively.

All students are undertaking a BSc in Medical Sciences over the next academic year. The bursaries have been awarded based on the calibre of the students but also on the nature of the research projects they will undertake.

Iyabo will undertake a global health research project with Professor Wendy Graham and the Soapbox Collaborative, a local research charity, looking at water use required for effective infection prevention and control in maternity units in low-income countries.

Jenna’s project, with Professors Mark Vickers and Rob Barker, will assess the role of red cell surface sugars in sickle cell disease, which affects over 3 million people worldwide.

Ross will investigate the role of the nuclear protein HMGB1 in oesophageal cancer progression under the supervision of Dr Mairi McLean and Professor Graeme Murray.

Joanne will work with Dr Georgina Hold, Dr James Hislop and Professor Graeme Murray to study the role of G-protein coupled receptors as a therapeutic target for colorectal cancer.

Rachel’s project will look at the relationship between chronic pain and sleep under the supervision of Professor Helen Galley and Dr Kanakarajan.

All the winning students are undertaking intercalated degrees, taking a year out of their medical studies to study for an extra degree. This process lengthens their studies by a year, but means they receive two degrees - an MBChB plus a BSc, BMedSci or Masters. 

Dr Georgina Hold, Lead for Intercalating Year studies, said: “I am absolutely delighted for all of the students and these awards should set them on a research active clinical career path. I also hope that their success will spur others on in subsequent years to intercalate.

“Each of the winners has demonstrated a strong academic performance with the desire to enhance their medical training/education through pursuing an intercalated degree with a substantial research component.

“Intercalated degree programmes enhance transferable skills associated with researching literature, critical scientific thinking and evaluating evidence. These skills can give students an advantage when they return to their MBChB studies and remain with them throughout their career, as well as strengthening Foundation Year applications.”

Professor Alan Denison, Programme Lead for Medicine, said: “Aberdeen has a proud and distinguished history of training and supporting today’s medical students to become tomorrow’s compassionate and caring doctors. In celebrating the achievements of these students, we can also be confident that we are also nurturing excellence in research.”