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My research experience

Dr Grace Cox's research experience

Dr Grace Cox, a 2021 graduate, ventured into a compelling research journey centred around the delivery of vaccination advice to patients diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Recognising the crucial need for regular vaccinations among immunocompromised CLL patients to prevent severe infections, Dr Cox's Scholarship and Special Interest Programme (SSIP) aimed to unearth any barriers hindering the provision of essential vaccination guidance.

Read more about find out more about Grace’s experience.

What was your SSIP?

My SSIP looked into the delivery of vaccination advice to patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). People with CLL are immunocompromised and therefore need regular vaccinations to prevent serious infections, however in practice these aren’t always offered. I created a survey that was distributed to healthcare professionals involved in CLL care to see if I could identify any barriers to the delivery of this vaccination guidance.

Who did you work with?

Dr David Allsup was my supervisor for this project. We had regular meetings throughout in which he’d offer suggestions and advice. He also helped me to distribute my survey to healthcare professionals at the Queen’s Medical Centre at Castle Hill Hospital.

What did you enjoy about it?

It was a great opportunity to delve deeper into CLL and get a better appreciation of the pathophysiology, investigations and treatment. I enjoyed conducting the literature review as it helped me to understand how important vaccinations are in CLL, what evidence is currently out there and also what research still needs to be done.

The whole project taught me about all the different processes involved in research which I wasn’t aware of before. Also my survey ended up generating some interesting and unexpected results.

Can you tell us about your presentation at the British Society of Haematology conference?

Dr Allsup suggested I submit my completed research to the British Society of Haematology for their annual conference. It ended up being accepted as a poster presentation which was great!

I attended the conference (virtually due to COVID) and was able to see what other haematology research had been conducted over the past year. It was just exciting to be around so many experts and hear them talk so passionately about their chosen subjects.

What skills have you developed that will help you in your future career as a doctor?

The project required me to use a range of different skills like critical appraisal of research, poster formatting and presentation skills.

I now have a much better understanding of the research process which will help me to get involved with further projects in the future. I also would be more likely to attend further conferences as I can now really appreciate the importance of keeping on top of research in providing high quality care.