Working with health data
The health data research project I worked on involved exploring the health benefits of fish consumption using genomic and biomedical/health datasets. Given that I have a fisheries background, this project was what I was very excited about. The project, I would say, built on my previous background that involved "providing fish for populations" to "exploring the health benefits of fish consumption within populations".
We used a novel statistical approach known as Mendelian randomization to investigate the health benefits of fish consumption. This was done by examining the genetic variations that regular fish consumers have, in relation to coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The early results of the study showed no significant effect of fish consumption on cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes outcomes, as fish consumption may have been influenced by confounders such as the consumption of alcohol. But the work has piqued my research interests in epidemiology.
The project was carried out on the UK Biobank dataset. This dataset is the world's largest biomedical/health dataset of its kind, comprising the data points of more than half a million participants. This internship allowed me to explore this vast amount of veracious health data. My understanding and ability to handle big data using the R programming language has immensely increased.
Following this HDR UK internship experience, I have now secured a one-year data science internship role at the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics starting this year. Thanks to the internship at Cambridge over the summer, my career interest and trajectory has been redirected towards epidemiology, and I am now looking for a 2022 October PhD position in this inspiring new area.