After achieving a first-class honours studying a pharmacy degree at the University of Mosul in my home country of Iraq, I received a scholarship to continue my studies abroad. I chose to come to Sheffield Hallam University as Sheffield has a really good quality of life. It’s a lovely, friendly place and one of the greenest cities not only in the UK but also in Europe.
My PhD has given me tremendous opportunities. I have presented 12 oral presentations, 14 posters and won four awards nationally and internationally. Additionally, I have published three first-author papers and co-authored another two at highly ranked international journals.
With the help and support of the university and the directors of my PhD studies, Professor Nicola Woodroofe and Dr Matthew Conner, I have developed many essential scientific skills including academic writing, referencing, data presentation, critical analysis and also public engagement skills. I have also developed skills in initiative, independence, team-working, patience, problem-solving and time management.
My research (which is part of a big research collaboration including five national and international universities) is about identifying new treatments for brain injuries and its associated oedema – a condition which causes more than 3 million deaths and affects more than 60 million people every year. I feel that I am on the right direction towards achieving this aim, and clinical trials is my next step.
After achieving my research and academic goals, my ultimate goal is to play a vital role in improving the quality of education and scientific research in Iraq, and being one of the pioneers in these fields when I return to my home country.
Our brain defines us. It gives us our personality, our abilities. In fact, our humanity. But it’s squishy, fragile and delicate.
A bang on the head can cause water to enter the brain sells from the bloodstream causing them to swell. This can lead to brain damage, or even death.
There is an urgent need for any new treatment at the moment surgery is the best option, but it’s risky. In my PhD I am exploring how water enters brain cells through aquaporins – tiny doughnut-shaped holes in the cell membrane.
I’m trying to control the movement of these aquaporins so that less water goes into the brain cells. This will give doctors more time to help, and give the affected cells more time to heal. Because with a brain injury a couple of minutes can be life-changing.
Ultimately I hope my work will help the over 60 million people who are affected by brain injuries every year.