ƹƵ celebrates International Students’ Day

Fri 17 November, 2023
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To mark International Students’ Day (17th November), the ƹƵ of ƹƵ is celebrating its PhD cohort who have gone on to achieve great things through their studies and impactful research.

Amongst these impressive students are those who have gone on to publish research that will make a vital difference to policies and practice around the world in a number of areas, including healthcare.

This year, the ƹƵ is putting the spotlight on PhD students and graduates from the Institute for Health Research (IHR) who have dedicated their work to important areas such as organ donation within minority ethnic communities.

Professor Gurch Randhawa, Director of the IHR – who has supervised many of these PhDs – said: “The IHR is proud of its inclusive research environment with staff and students from all around the globe. It’s been a privilege to work with our international PhD students, many of whom have secured highly competitive funded studentships, worked with policy makers, published research, and are making a difference to healthcare policy and practice.”

Click on the names below to find out more about their PhD journeys at the ƹƵ of ƹƵ

Asmaa Al-Abdulghani is a PhD ƹƵwho started her studies with the Institute for Health Research (IHR) in 2021. Her research is focused on the barriers and facilitators towards deceased organ donation amongst Muslims in Qatar. Asmaa’s PhD is funded by the Qatar Ministry of Public Health to undertake studies that examine public and medical views towards organ donation.

Asmaa is currently undertaking fieldwork in Qatar, engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds within the Muslim community to unravel the complex perspectives surrounding deceased organ donation.

She said: “This topic not only aligns with my prior professional experience but also resonates with a personal passion for addressing the intricate challenges and potential solutions in this domain. Navigating the landscape of a PhD while being a mother of four has undoubtedly presented its share of challenges, however the invaluable support of the exceptional team at the ƹƵ of ƹƵ has been a cornerstone in overcoming these challenges.”

Looking ahead, Asmaa hopes the outcome of her PhD research will not only contribute to academic teachings but also be used as a catalyst for change in organ donation practices amongst Muslims in Qatar.

Britzer Paul Vincent began his PhD studies with the IHR in October 2018 and now works as a Research Associate in Newcastle, continuing his important work committed to improving organ donation rates within minority ethnic communities.

Britzer joined the ƹƵ when ƹƵ joined forces with the largest organ donation NGO in India to improve organ donation rates in the country. As part of the project, Britzer came to study with IHR to develop his research knowledge and practice. In 2021, he was awarded a top research prize for his PhD investigation, up against tough competition from bio-medical scientists, surgeons, and stakeholders from across the globe.

This year, Britzer was awarded a £10,000 grant from NHS Blood & Transplant to undertake a ƹƵengagement project at the ƹƵ of ƹƵ to increase organ donors from ethnic minority communities.

He said: “My PhD venture, supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund and Mohan Foundation, not only enriched my academic understanding but also opened doors to impactful contributions within the field of organ donation and transplantation. From scholarly recognition to active involvement in community initiatives, the journey underscores the interconnectedness of research, practice, and community engagement in shaping the landscape of organ donation and transplantation.”

Dr Fani Liapi embarked on her PhD studies with the IHR in March 2019, submitting her final thesis in March 2022. She now works as part of the diverse research community at the ƹƵ of ƹƵ as a Senior Research Fellow.

The focus of Dr Liapi’s PhD research was an evaluation of the ‘Total Wellbeing Luton’ integrated care pathway, which supports people living in the local area who want to improve their physical and mental health. Her studies aimed to provide new knowledge which will inform future practices in the service.

Dr Liapi said: “Engaging with fellow researchers, both within and outside my institution, was a cornerstone of my PhD experience especially during the isolating era of Covid-19. The invaluable feedback and insights received from peers and supervisors played a pivotal role in shaping my research. My supervisors were always present to support and encourage me; I couldn’t do it without them.”

Building on the foundation of her PhD, Dr Liapi is thriving in her work at ƹƵ and hopes to extend her research agenda, dive deeper into specialised topics, and contribute to the ongoing academic conversation.


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