My masters is the reason I work in neuroscience research

Alisha Patel
Alisha Patel
MSc Clinical Neurology
Alisha Patel graduated from our Clinical Neurology MSc in 2015, and credits the course as giving her the confidence, knowledge and passion needed to pursue a career in neuroscience research.
Alisha Patel

Why did you decide to study this course at the University of Sheffield?

“I completed my undergrad at Sheffield Hallam in Psychology and I loved the Neuroanatomy module. After some research I felt neuroscience, and in particular the Clinical Neurology masters, would be really interesting and might lead me to a career in neuroscience.

I loved Sheffield the minute I stepped off the train from Manchester and knew that this was the place I wanted to go to university. It felt fun, vibrant and exciting, whilst not being too big a city, and I loved how close it was to the Peak District.

Alisha Patel

What did you enjoy most about the course?

“From the minute I started the course I absolutely loved it. I loved the environment, I loved the topics of the course, but most of all I loved the tutors and my supervisors. I feel genuinely so lucky to have been taught by such incredible and knowledgeable academics.

“I remember picking a research project that unfortunately was no longer available and Professor Chris McDermott organised a meeting with me. I was super nervous, but he was genuinely so kind and apologetic and helped me find a new project which I was going to love just as much. 

“I ended up carrying out research into returning to driving and work after a transient ischaemic attack (a mini stroke). The project gave me amazing experience of the NHS regulatory approval process, recruitment of patients and an experience of what it would be like to work in research. I was supervised by Dr Simon Bell, who encouraged me every step of the way. Our project ended up being published and we implemented guidelines for Allied Health Professionals to provide further support to those who have experienced a mini stroke.

"Dr Simon Bell had such an infectious passion for research and improvement to patient outcomes that I genuinely can say I wouldn’t have chosen the career I have done without him.

“I also had Helen Hickson, who encouraged me and made me believe in myself, which has given me the confidence I have now.”

In what ways has the course informed your current career path?

“My masters is the reason I work in neuroscience research. After graduating I spent time working in both Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and The University of Sheffield assisting with clinical trials. I learnt about the delivery of research along with clinical skills, such as consenting, taking bloods and conducting protocol assessments, as well as setting up research sites across the UK.

“Then the job I had wanted since completing my MSc came up - Neuroscience Research Coordinator for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. I spent three and a half years in this role setting up research projects, managing directorate research activities and supporting grant applications. This was the most informative, challenging but inspiring three years of my research career and I certainly learnt a lot!

“Post-pandemic I felt it was time to move back to Manchester, and I had the pleasure of managing a newly funded Brain Research Centre. My entire career has focused on Neuroscience research and without my MSc at Sheffield I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today!”

What would you say to a student thinking of studying Clinical Neurology at Sheffield?

“I would say go for it! Genuinely, I don’t regret a single minute of it - I made some incredible friends, I learnt so many new things, not just academically but also about work and life in general. I learnt how to ‘pretend’ to be a confident speaker and how important networking and knowing people in the field is. I wish I could go back and do it all over again!”

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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