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Research: Real world evidence in AMD treatment

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Congratulations for having achieve your PhD. Why did you first decide you wanted to do a PHD?

It was an intellectual curiosity as I felt that I did not know enough about research methods to continue the clinical research I was performing.

I started off aiming for a Masters degree but decided to pursue a PhD when my supervisor decided my scope of work was enough to justify a conversion. It took me 3 years and I am very grateful to VisionSave for helping to fund my studies.

What was you PhD about?

My thesis was about using big real world data to inform the best treatment for Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which is unfortunately a cause of irreversible blindness as we age. Using the data from a large international AMD registry (including Singapore), I analysed factors that contributed to best outcomes for patients. The research was set out along the lines of a patient’s journey - sub typing the different types of AMD, treatment patterns and features that resulted in end stage phenotypes. The aim was to see how we could improve visual outcomes in our patients.

What challenges did you have doing your PhD?

Time management - I was also doing a busy clinical medical retina fellowship, and running clinics as a consultant at the same time. As part of my PhD, I also had to attend classes in the evening and on weekends; and ‘going back to school’ is hard when you are older. Understanding the subject matter and the research process was like a new language. And finally writing it all up was a challenge as I needed to piece together all the results to form a coherent story for the final thesis.

How does it feel now you have completed the PhD. Would you recommend it to your younger colleagues? What do you hope to do now?

It is a great relief to be finally done. The nice things about my PhD is that it is very relevant to my current clinical practice in AMD and hence I hope to continue my research in this field.

I would advise the younger guys to consider this only if there is a burning interest in pursuing a career as a clinician scientist as the PhD will give a good grounding in how to conduct good research. It is not for the faint hearted and can be taxing and frustrating at times. Because the course is long, one can get lulled into a sense of complacency and end up not finishing. A specific research question is also important, preferably one that is relevant to your practice or interest as it is this interest that will keep you going.

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