Rohit Sinha, who started his Clinical Research Fellowship in 2017 explains his research and why he applied to the CRUK Cambridge Centre for a clinical fellowship...
What is your research project all about and what impact could it have on the way we understand, detect or treat cancer?
The most aggressive brain cancers, called glioblastomas, have a very poor prognosis at present. Patients with glioblastomas also report having many different daily difficulties with their memory, vision, attention and thinking, collectively called cognition.
My research project aims to study how these cognitive brain functions change in patients with glioblastoma from the point of diagnosis to after treatment with surgery. We are doing this with a mix of tablet computer tests of cognition and specialised brain scans to study the changes happening in the brain when patients develop these problems.
We hope that the knowledge generated by this research will help patients to better understand the effect the disease can have on their lives practically and the risks of surgery so that they can make more informed choices about their treatment. In the longer term, we hope to use this knowledge to develop safer surgical techniques which minimise the risk of worsening cognition.
What were you doing before you started your PhD?
I was working as a specialty registrar doctor in Neurosurgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. It was whilst I was treating patients with glioblastoma and hearing them describe their cognitive problems, that I realised that this knowledge gap exists and that the services we offer could be improved in this regard.
Why are you interested in cancer research?
I have been most affected in my clinical career by patients with cancer, especially glioblastoma. I found myself very motivated to help these patients given all that they have to go through and hence my interest in cancer research developed from there.
Why did you want to study in Cambridge?
Opportunity! After defining my research question, I was very lucky to be working in a place like Cambridge where the opportunities to meet researchers, discuss ideas, design studies and get support to start my own project are just part of the ethos of the city. Plus it was very convenient to already be working at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
What are the best, and worst, things about being a PhD student here?
As I mentioned previously, the scope for collaboration and abundance of support to undertake research is one of the best aspects. Also, there are so many talks and short courses around the city on a daily basis that there is always ample opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills however you see fit. I can’t think of any bad things, except that it is not by the sea.
Rohit's supervisor is Mr Stephen Price and he is a member of the Neurobiology and brain cancers programme.