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Case study: Dr Raheel Ahmed's path in research

I’m Dr Raheel Ahmed, I graduated from Newcastle University in 2014.

Tell us about yourself…

After completing my foundation programme and core medical training, I started specialist registrar training in cardiology at the Northern Deanery.

A few months ago, whilst I was an ST5 cardiology registrar, I went out of programme and started my MD (res) at the Royal Brompton Hospital and Imperial College in London.

Why did you want to become a researcher? 

As a physician and clinician, no matter how good you are with your patients or how good a ward round you do, the impact of your work is limited to the local region and to a particular time. 

As a researcher, your published work has the potential to make a global impact to a lot of people for a long period of time. This is what drives me to be a researcher.

What research have you been involved in? 

As a second year medical student at Newcastle University, I was involved in laboratory- based research work. Later, in my fourth year of medical school, I carried out clinical research studies with the Freeman Hospital academic cardiologists. I was able to publish a paper as a first author in the journal of American College of Cardiology which is a leading cardiology journal. I was able to highlight that preeclampsia in pregnancy is a risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. This was important because some doctors, when addressing cardiovascular risk factors or using risk assessment tools, do not ask about previous history of preeclampsia. Through this paper, we highlighted this issue.

Throughout my clinical rotations as a junior doctor and as a registrar, I have been carrying out research studies from secondary databases with academic cardiologists from the Mayo Clinic, USA. Currently, my MD(res) at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London is about risk stratification of patients with cardiac sarcoidosis, a condition which is under-detected with high morbidity and mortality.

What has been your research highlight so far? 

I am currently setting up CoNNeCT Cardiology (a Collaborative Nationwide Network of Cardiologists in Training). I decided to set up the collaborative after a research themed teaching session, delivered by Dr Helen Ingoe to regional cardiology registrars. I noted that cardiology practice is heavily evidenced-based but surprisingly it has no trainee-led research collaborative group. This is both at a national and regional level.

A group of like-minded cardiology registrars, in combination with members from British Junior Cardiovascular Association (BJCA), have been approached to form the cardiology collaborative. 

The team is soon to advertise officially via the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) platform for a leader to take this project further. 

I hope that the North-East Cardiology Registrars will be pioneers of this group which can become a formidable force in cardiology research in future. If you would like to know more about CoNNeCT Cardiology please contact Raheel.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in research? 

Research requires patience and perseverance. The wheels at times can turn much slower than in clinical practice. It is extremely important that one does not lose hope or enthusiasm because eventually, when the results are published or the data is presented at a conference, it can be very rewarding and a fulfilling experience.