Yasmine D Bark

MSc in Experimental Therapeutics

'I am a pharmacist who, after graduation, was keen to enter the research field. I knew I could work with drugs, but I wanted to specialize in a drug research area and my interest was still broad. I foresaw that a postgraduate degree was the next step, and the MSc in Experimental Therapeutics was what I needed to understand the current challenges in good clinical and research practice. I learned to apply the skills I already had - and, at the same time, develop new ones in the theoretical and empirical context.

'The modules were really engaging and I enjoyed the challenge to demonstrate a high level of critical thinking and innovation. I also got the opportunity to get laboratory experience - and then initiated working on my one-year dissertation project, Ruthenium Compounds as Anticancer Therapeutics: Mechanisms of Action at The CRUK-MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology.

'Platinum (Pt) compounds are amongst the most clinically useful drugs used in cancer treatment; however, due to unresolved issues of toxicity seen with them in general, the search for alternative anticancer therapeutics containing other metallic elements is in progress. Ruthenium (Ru) is a transition metal that forms a scientifically attractive alternative to Pt for drug discovery in treating cancer.

'The project explored the role of the tumor suppressor protein p53 in determining cellular responses to two Ru(II) complexes. They were investigated for their cytotoxicity and potential for use as radiosensitisers, and were compared with other Pt agents.

'This work gained a 'distinction' and resulted in my co-authoring my first publication, in Nature.

'All achievements came with a lot of hard-work and excellent supervision - especially when dealing with many of the pioneers in the relevant areas. My goals were refined and I found myself genuinely interested in dealing with health data.

'This is how I am currently involved in a project on big data analysis at The George Institute for Global Health (part of The Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology(NDOG)). I am working on tracking physical activity (PA) from childhood into adulthood in subjects from The International Child Cardiovascular Cohort (i3C) Consortium.

'From my own experience, the MSc in Experimental Therapeutics further contributed to my personal improvement as well. I enjoyed being the student representative for my cohort and participating in meetings within the Department and the University. Moreover, I met colleagues and made friends from around the world and from different health backgrounds and diverse cultures, a benefit of the way the course is administered and delivered.'