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My Warwick Life: Naila Rabbani

Naila RabbaniThe My Warwick Life feature gives an insight into staff and students’ lives at Warwick, considering both their work and social life on campus. This week we hear from Naila Rabbani, Associate Professor, Metabolic & Vascular Health, Warwick Medical School (WMS).

There’s no such thing as a typical day, but, in a nutshell, my job involves…

being part of a multidisciplinary team working on medical research that spans bench to bedside. I have a joint appointment with the Systems Biology Centre and Medical School. My research makes use of mathematical modelling - a systems biology approach. We've developed state of the art analytical techniques to study and predict early stage development of diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetic kidney disease. We discovered that vitamin B1 (thiamine) has the potential to treat and prevent diabetic kidney disease. This is an important discovery and I'm currently seeking funding for a large definitive clinical trial to confirm our pilot trial results. If successful this treatment would reduce NHS costs for care of people with diabetic kidney disease and related illness.

I had a really useful meeting recently with…

our Director of Corporate Relations, Ajan Reginald. Our research attracts many companies for potential partnering and collaborations. Negotiating with them can be a challenge. Meeting with Ajan was very useful and we now have support helping us to do business with the commercial sector.

It would be really useful to work more closely with…

University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW), to translate my research findings into improvements in people's health. Local collaborations with clinical experts are tremendously beneficial and facilitating. I have some currently but I would like more.

I recently attended the Keystone Conference in Boston where…

our research was rated highly. I met leaders in the field of diabetes and associated health impairments. After my presentation one kind delegate said that, after my talk, "everything was now clear". This was very complimentary but I'm now wondering if I over-simplified things! We have important collaborations with research leaders in the prestigious Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

I'm really enjoying working on…

encouraging more women to be involved in science, engineering and technology. I'm a member of the University and WMS Athena Swan focus group that aims to facilitate this for students and both junior and senior members of staff. This ensures that there is no 'glass ceiling' for female scientists, engineers and technologists. I entered my academic life as a mature student with two small children and English as a second language. I have the experience of the difficult but exciting journey from a student to a relatively successful scientist. A high level of motivation and ambition is important to achieve your goals; a supportive environment both at home and at university is also crucial too. Through the Athena Swan initiative Warwick is committed to providing this supportive environment to both male and female members of the University. The proof of this commitment is that both the University and WMS have received Bronze awards and I feel proud to be part of that team.

The best thing about Warwick is…

the inter-departmental collaboration. I moved to Warwick from the University of Essex in 2007. Running a multidisciplinary team successfully is greatly facilitated by having international-class expertise in different disciplines close at hand in the departments here. We have fruitful collaborations formed with colleagues in Systems Biology, Chemistry, Engineering and Life Sciences.

If I could improve one thing about the University it would be to…

completely eliminate bullying and harassment from the workplace, and Warwick takes this issue very seriously. Advances have already been made to make the working environment pleasant and happy for everyone, but further improvements are needed to ensure the issue is addressed fairly and transparently throughout the university.

Warwick's unique because…

It's one of the top universities in the world and in the UK and uniquely located in centre of the country. It's very convenient for a scientist like me to collaborate with colleagues in other universities and meet up with relative ease due to the strategic location of the Warwick.

I recently learnt that…

one of the University’s global priority programme (GPP) research themes is science and technology for health, with an emphasis on healthy ageing and healthcare in resource-poor environments. This matches nicely with my research interests.

I'm a regular at the Arts Centre because…

it’s the largest art centre in Midlands. Recently I’ve enjoyed watching plays, symphony orchestras and comedy shows. That is another highlight of working at the University of Warwick.

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