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‘Research puts medicine in a position to deliver new treatments to move society forward’

‘Research puts medicine in a position to deliver new treatments to move society forward’

Having a stroke changed Shaji Joseph’s life in all sorts of ways.

Even though he was already a doctor – he was a practising GP in his native India – suffering the stroke in 2005 brought home to him, more than ever, the importance of research.

“Since the stroke happened, I’ve wanted to know more about research into the condition,” Shaji said. “I want to know more about my condition and ways to fight it.”

Shaji was on the cusp of qualifying to become a doctor in the UK – he had just completed the necessary exams – when the stroke hit. He was cared for by Barts Health NHS Trust for five weeks before being allowed to return home.

Although the stroke put his medical career on hold, he has since put his time to use in other ways. He is a stroke support coordinator for the Stroke Association and a community leader.

He has also taken part in various research studies around stroke and dementia. He is also an unstinting promoter of research to the public, in line with his Research Champion role.

As part of his work as a Champion, Shaji has set up a table in the outpatients’ department at Barts Health, specifically Newham University Hospital, where people can approach him and find out more about the ways to access research opportunities.

“I want to be able to help others who have been in the same position as me,” explained Shaji of his research promotion activities. “Research puts medicine in a position to deliver new treatments to move society forward. By taking part, we can help our generation and future generations.

“It’s not about being a ‘guinea pig’. Research participants should always be treated with dignity and respect.”

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Shaji has scaled down his research promotion activities somewhat, and is conscious of the impact that the virus has had on members of the BAME community.

“I’ve definitely seen some understandable panic in the BAME community, due to the higher mortality from the virus within it. But it makes research even more important as it will help us find a way to combat it,” he said.   

To find out more about taking part in research, visit the Be Part of Research website.