The next generation of health data scientists are taking their first steps into this rapidly expanding field, with internships at the UK’s largest NHS trust.
Four young people have been offered placements at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), under two distinct schemes run by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK).
HDR UK is the national institute for health data science, on a mission to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that benefit people’s lives. It supports research by facilitating the sharing of health data at scale, in order to advance understanding of disease and enable new discoveries to improve the health of the UK.
MFT has offered placements to four people, three as part of the Health Data Science Black Internship Programme, and one as part of the HDRUK-Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships in Health Data Research.
About the Health Data Science Black Internship Programme
Run in partnership with the UK Health Data Research Alliance and the 10,000 Black Interns initiative, this programme helps to kick-start the data science careers of recently graduated Black people, or those in their undergraduate years, by providing opportunities to work on health data science projects.
Interns are offered opportunities to learn about health data science in action and to carry out their own, clearly defined, research projects.
Dr Katherine Boylan, Head of Innovation at MFT, said: “Having interviewed an outstanding group of candidates – and part-funded by NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre – we are delighted to have appointed three new colleagues under the Black Internship Programme.
“Having begun their eight-week placements with us at the beginning of July 2022, they will now support data projects across our Trust, hosted infrastructure and Clinical Data Sciences Unit (CDSU).
“David, Rola and Ibukunoluwa have all been matched with personal mentors and have already impressed us with their enthusiasm and work ethic, and I am looking forward to supporting their progression throughout their time at MFT.
“I have no doubt they will do great things in the future.”
About MFT’s Black Internship Programme interns
David Boakye is 21-years-old, from Milton Keynes, and has recently completed his third year of a Pharmacy degree from Aston University.
David said: “I heard about 10,000 Black Interns via TikTok. A friend told me, ‘you should have a look at this scheme’, and I managed to apply for it just before the deadline. I was really pleased as I did quite a few interviews before this, but this was the one I always had in mind.
“It’s an important scheme, as I feel there are a lack of black males specialising in pharmacy. In my case, my brother is a pharmacist, so it’s been important to have him as a role model.
“Of course, data science is extremely different to pharmacy! But I would hopefully like to switch into pharmaceutical data science or the tech field, and this is a great opportunity to gain some experience.
“I definitely wanted to be involved in the NHS – it makes so much sense coming from a pharmacy background – and I’m really pleased to be here.”
Rola Adefarasin is 18-years-old, from Watford, and has recently completed her first year of a Computer Science degree at the University of Leeds.
Rola said: “I was researching internships and I came across the HDR UK scheme on LinkedIn. I read into it, and it looked interesting, particularly the computer science element.
“There aren’t many black girls or women on my course, so this is an important opportunity.
“I have always wanted to be involved in healthcare, such as the NHS, whether medically or in terms of helping people with computer science. I’m not sure exactly what I would like to do eventually in my career, but definitely something involving artificial intelligence.”
Ibukunoluwa Adesina is 27-years-old from Cramlington, Newcastle, and has a degree in Bioinformatics.
Ibukunoluwa said: “I actually heard about HDR UK scheme last year, from numerous searches, when I was trying to break into bioinformatics. From there, I saw the Black Internship Programme, and I was really excited to apply.
“It’s an important scheme, as it’s always better when there is equality and representation.
“I’m really pleased that my internship is within the NHS – I always wanted to be somewhere where I could have a positive impact on people’s lives.
“Career-wise, I’m leaning towards genome sequencing and personalised medicine, so this feels like the perfect placement for me.”
Find out more about the Health Data Science Black Internship Programme 2022 via the HDR UK website.
About the HDRUK-Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships in Health Data Research
This programme is designed to support undergraduates, in the middle year(s) of quantitative degrees, to undertake health data research projects for the very first time.
It offers interns valuable insights into scientific research and the opportunity to work under leading UK academics and clinicians.
About MFT’s Biomedical Vacation Scholarship intern
Jake Parker is 21-years-old from Rainford, Merseyside, and has just completed his second year of a Maths with Finance degree at the University of Plymouth.
He has been offered an eight-week scholarship at MFT as part of this scheme and is working on a project to compare continuous blood pressure measurements in the intensive care unit with hourly checks performed by nurses.
Jake is being mentored by Dr Anthony Wilson and Dr Alexander Parker, who are both Critical Care Consultants at Manchester Royal Infirmary, which is part of MFT.
Jake said: “One of my lecturers at university emailed me about HDR UK schemes, and while Maths with Finance might sound a bit different to data science, I have taken modules that introduced me to analysis and programming.
“I have personal experience with the NHS and wanted to gain experience in a role where I could have a positive impact and potentially make some improvements.
“It will be really inspiring to work with Dr Wilson, Dr Parker and other colleagues, such as the CDSU team, so I can’t wait to get started.
“I would eventually like to be a forecast analyst in the public sector – which is where artificial intelligence is used to predict patterns for the future.”
Dr Wilson said: “It is a big help for us to partner with students like Jake, who are keen to apply learning from their degrees in a hospital setting.
“Projects like this vacation scholarship are great way for us to help build the healthcare data scientists of the future.”
Find out more about Biomedical Vacation Scholarships in Health Data Research via the HDR UK website.