Charting New Territory: Interning at HDR UK's Immunity and Inflammation Driver Programme
Ms Eseosa Igbinosa shares how her internship with the Inflammation and Immunity Driver Programme has helped to foster her transition from a career in finance to becoming a health data analyst.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty
Much like a caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly, my internship journey was one of profound transformation, taking me from uncertainty to newfound confidence and expertise.
In the summer of 2023, I was excited to accept an internship with the Inflammation & Immunity Driver Programme. The programme aims to drive health care innovation by using data from across the UK to create ‘research-ready’ datasets, starting with respiratory conditions like Asthma and expanding to other inflammation-related diseases. Amidst the historic halls of Imperial College London, I found myself standing at the crossroads of curiosity and challenge, ready to begin the internship that promised to redefine my understanding of health data.
Coming from a finance background, I was eager yet apprehensive about the road that lay ahead. Whilst this opportunity aligned with my passion for harnessing data to generate insights that can drive positive societal change, I knew that working as a health data science intern would be a steep learning curve. Nevertheless, I resolved to take on this challenge head-on, determined to turn every obstacle into an opportunity for growth and development.
I was tasked with investigating the overall survival and the cause-specific mortality rate in patients with lung cancer and co-existing type 2 diabetes mellitus, which involved:
- Comparing the overall survival time of patients living with lung cancer, with and without diabetes;
- Analysing cause-specific survival in lung cancer patients with and without type 2 diabetes. Focussing on cancer mortality, cardiovascular deaths, and respiratory deaths;
- Investigating how type 2 diabetes severity affects overall survival time following a lung cancer diagnosis among people with diabetes; and
- Conducting a multivariate analysis that accounts for age, gender, smoking status, BMI, number of primary care consultations a year before cancer diagnosis, and number of primary care hospital admissions.
Although this seemed daunting at first, my research team offered me support and guidance especially my team leader and Inflammation and Immunity’s co-director, Prof Jennifer Quint, and my supervisor, Dr Sarah Cook. From day one, Jenni and Sarah took it upon themselves to ensure I had a smooth transition and played a pivotal role in bridging my knowledge gap. They walked me through the full clinical research process, from developing a hypothesis to comprehending the complexities of health data analysis. This included providing me with a resource toolkit and ensuring that I had access to appropriate research articles, databases, and software for the project.
With their assistance and direction, I was able to successfully:
- Use the Kaplan-Meier Survival Estimates and the Cox proportional to perform univariate and multivariate survival analyses on overall survival and cause-specific survival analyses of lung cancer patients with and without diabetes.
- Produce a research paper that offers analysis, interpretation, and justification for the cause-specific survival probability of lung cancer patients with co-existing type 2 diabetes.
This hands-on experience has not only honed my research capabilities but also positioned me to contribute meaningfully to the existing literature in lung cancer research.
Being immersed in the research environment at Imperial was truly an honour. Outside of my day-to-day work, I regularly attended workshops, meetings, and social events, which allowed me to network and engage with leading academics and clinicians. Their insights and direction have been instrumental in shaping and further fuelling my interest towards pursuing postgraduate studies and a career in health data research. I am now also better equipped with essential interpersonal skills applicable throughout my academic and professional career.
As a non-scientist, I first felt like an outsider trying to decode a new language. But as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the unfamiliar became familiar, and the challenges turned into learning opportunities. The skills honed, the relationships formed, and the insights gained will undoubtedly guide my future endeavours.
I would like to thank Inflammation and Immunity for the opportunity to contribute to their programme, and to Prof Quint for her supervision and support. As I close this chapter and look ahead, I am filled with gratitude for the past and excitement for the future, ready to harness the skills and perspectives I have gained to make meaningful contributions to the world of health data research.
The Health Data Science Black Internship Programme is an exciting endeavour for early career Black data scientists – a heavily under-represented group in the sector. It is run by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and the UK Health Data Research Alliance in partnership with 10,000 Black Interns initiative.
The programme aims to not only to continue to tackle the underrepresentation of Black people within the health data science sector, but to also provide motivated candidates with the experience they need to kick-start their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.
In 2023, Inflammation and Immunity hosted four interns each based within one of the four UK nations:
- Dr George Addo Opoku-Pare
- Eseosa Igbinosa
- Mobuolafoluwa Onayade
Page publication date: 9/11/2023