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The Interview

It has been a year since COVID-19 Pandemic started and because of it many of the student's research work was delayed. In this issue, we share a light interview taken with a group of students who have joined the first batch of the Students' Research Matching Program and managed to publish their work within a span of a year despite all the limitations provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Students Research Matching Program is a program designed to match students interested in specific fields In healthcare with doctors (faculty) of that field who have a ready publishable research idea/topic. 

 
Trisha Rebello (4th Year MBBS) and Mohammed Faraz (Intern) were matched with Dr. Kurady Bairy with the study title " Efficacy of Mupirocin with Chitosan and Collagen to Mupirocin Only on Experimentally Induced Incision Wound Healing in Wistar Rats". 
 

Following their study completion, they submitted their work for publication. We sat down with them and asked them a few questions.

Some of the Study Findings - The Effect of Mupirocin with Chitosan and Collagen on Wound Healing (https://www.ejpmr.com/home/abstract_id/7945)

Congratulations on your publication! We are so happy and proud of you, it is amazing to see your research work getting published despite the current situation. Can you briefly explain the idea behind your project?

Faraz - We wanted to study the safety and efficacy of using collagen and chitosan, being more biocompatible substances, in the process of wound healing. Collagen is suggested to enhance wound healing by providing an extracellular matrix, and chitosan, a polysaccharide is claimed to be beneficial in wound healing. Hence, we conducted our research using a mupirocin ointment containing collagen and chitosan in comparison to mupirocin that comprised of only T-bact ointment on experimentally made incisional wounds.

And can you tell us more about how your team came to be and how you worked together to reach this point?

Trisha - I had registered for the SRMP aiming to get some research experience and a publication. I had to fill out the form that asked me for my interests of subjects and topics and previous research experiences. It said it would match us into teams via an algorithm, as well as decide who our mentor would be and what project we would be assigned, depending on the choices every participant made. And that’s how our team came to be. 

About working as a team, if I were to list some of the factors that made our work a success, it would be that we were supportive of each other, had clear communication and good problem-solving skills. We were mostly regular with our work and well-committed to it. If at all we were behind on our work, we would communicate with each other, and with our mentor, and get back on track. I’d say we had a good understanding of our roles and we stood up to our responsibilities. 

Can you tell us about your experience with the Student Research Matching Program?

Trisha - I think the SRMP was a great opportunity. I instantly chose to register for it when I read that it would help us get a research topic based on our likes, dislikes and research experiences and achievements. I feel some  important yet difficult task in research is that you don’t know where to begin or whom to contact as a mentor, and SRMP helped in sorting out exactly that. And it did promise a research publication by the end of the program. I think such an opportunity also boosts your interest towards working in the research field, and honestly, in my opinion as a future medical professional, doing research is here to stay and rightfully so.

A big thank you to the SRMP founder, Dr. Zaki Emad and the entire team, for this wonderful opportunity and all their efforts.

 

Were there any difficulties or challenges you’ve faced, especially in light of the COVID-19 situation?

Faraz - Well, I wouldn’t call it a difficulty as such, but working on our manuscript together in-person with some sort of brainstorming would definitely be better, nonetheless we still made it work by communicating and coordinating well as a team
 

How were you able to publish your project within a limited duration of one year, despite the COVID-19 situation?

Faraz - Our mentor, Dr. Suresh, had a big role in this. He coordinated with us on the submissions and deadlines and of course, guided us throughout the process. We were done with our laboratory work within a span of 12 days as planned, in the month before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, after which we had data analysis and manuscript writing to do. We did delay the write-up by some time during the ongoing pandemic but we got back on track soon and completed the manuscript. The next thing that took us quite some time is getting approval from the journals we applied to, and trust me, it could take a really long time. But finally, in the month of March 2021, we were fortunate to have our work get published in the European Journal of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research (EJPMR) journal.

 

How were you able to manage your time with academic studies and the research?

Trisha - I think doing research is something I look forward to and so I tried to manage my time and try and find a balance between my studies and the research. I’m not saying I was able to maintain that balance all the time, and yes, there were times where I had to give our research priority over studies and vice versa but overall, it was manageable with proper planning and sticking to a schedule. 

 

How did the supervising committee member from CST help?

Trisha - We were supervised by Dr. Munazza Khanam, and she kept checking in on us and tracking our progress. She was always ready to help us in anyway if we needed it. 
 

How did Dr. Kurady Bairy/Dr. Suresh help you throughout this project? How was their experience beneficial? 

Faraz - Dr. Bairy and Dr. Suresh were extremely supportive of us. Dr. Bairy oriented us to what our project would be and enlightened us on it’s aim and background. Dr. Suresh helped us and guided us throughout the process from the laboratory work up until it’s publication and we are ever so grateful to him for his efforts and guidance. The professional experiences and knowledge as shared by them at every step made it a great learning process, be it from learning the technique of making the incisional wound on the lab animals involved in our study to understanding the use of inhalational anesthesia in our project or the basic elements like donning the appropriate lab attire.

 

What is the moment you will cherish the most from this whole experience?

Trisha - Well, such an experimental research study was a first for me, and so there’s many new experiences I had, but if I were to mention one moment I’d cherish the most from it, it would be that this was the first time in my life that I used a scalpel and made an incisional wound, the first time I made a suture and it was such an emotional yet exciting experience and that I learnt this from my teammate and senior student Faraz and mentor Dr.Suresh.

 

What is your message to your fellow students about SRMP, and would you recommend it for other students?

Faraz - SRMP is a wonderful research opportunity, and I would definitely recommend it. There are so many reasons as to why one should avail of it - It offers you a research idea of your interests, interaction with faculty having good research experience who you can learn a lot from and the cherry on top would be a sure-shot publication, provided your work is up to the standards of a good research paper that would be beneficial to fellow researchers and to the community.

We wish Trisha and Faraz more successful research publications with an enlightened future and we hope that this is a motivation for the rest of the SRMP teams and other students toward their publications. 
Copyright © 2021 RAK Medical & Health Sciences University, All rights reserved.

For comments and corrections, please contact the author:
Nour Saba'neh 
- Science & Technology Officer, Student Council
cstrakmhsu@gmail.com | +971551227108
Rim Ashraf - Science & Technology Committee Member

Our mailing address is:
PO Box. 11172, RAK, UAE
 






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