Medicine MRes student

Arslan Shakeel

Why did you choose to study your course? 

I’m a medical student from Hull York Medical School. I found during my preclinical years that I may have a strong interest in research. I decided to pursue this further, in consideration of the need for physician scientists, and my potential in this area. I felt that, to get a real understanding of research, I needed to maximise practical experience while also having taught modules. The MRes Medicine was perfect for that. 

What do you enjoy about your course? 

I really loved having my own research project; it was wonderful to have ownership of my work whereas in medical school, no such ownership often exists. I enjoyed being in contact with the significant number of scientists with which I could discuss my work and theirs. Having a research mentor, being in contact with so many different PIs, and being integrated into a research environment was also extremely beneficial.

What were the highlights of the course? 

Once again, having my own research project for an extended period compared to other similar degrees was fantastic. It gave me the opportunity to generate real data and ultimately go on to present and publish that data. It essentially took me from being research-naïve to a confident researcher.

What has been the greatest challenges throughout your course? 

Going from clinical medicine into the research world was difficult. I didn’t have the necessary skills when starting the course. Lab work was largely unknown to me and I was originally quite anxious about it (especially as the PhD students in my lab had just left, meaning I had to do much of it alone). My supervisor guided me through this and her advice was instrumental in helping me push past that anxiety. Once I overcame that initial hurdle, things seemed to take off.

What is your research project on and what has it involved?

My research project was looking at the effect of irradiation on the microvasculature in Glioblastoma Multiforme. It involved using samples from a mouse model of Glioblastoma to investigate these hypothesised effects, sectioning the tissue, and then staining the tissue to visualise various proteins under a microscope. Besides this I also extracted RNA from those tissues for sequencing and did a significant amount of cell culture. I then presented this work at a number of international research conferences.

How would you rate the facilities available to you throughout your project? How have these enhanced your experience?

The facilities are excellent. There is a wide range of equipment in the building, much of which is state-of-the-art. This allowed us to do much of what we wanted without limitations of equipment. Ultimately this allowed me to learn a variety of techniques that I may not have otherwise been able to learn.

Why did you choose the University of Leeds? 

I chose the University of Leeds mainly due to the course; I felt that the MRes course was excellent and exactly what I was looking for. I got others from other universities but they did not offer what Leeds was offering, especially in terms of the length of the research project. Furthermore, I am aspiring researcher but I am financially limited; the course leads were happy to help and support me for funding applications which I obtained, allowing me to pursue my interests. The city was also excellent, lively, and full of students; the social experience is fantastic as a result.