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Lancaster Medical School

Hoda Abid

Is a second year medical student at Lancaster Medical School. Hoda has reflected on her recent Special Study Module (SSM) in Neurology. "As a postgraduate student studying medicine, with a background in Applied Medical Sciences from UCL and with an MSc in Immunology from Oxford, I’ve always had a keen interest in academic medicine, and especially in neuroscience! The obscure, walnut-like structure enclosed in our cranium has always fascinated me. The fact that this lump of pale grey fatty tissue can give rise to our thoughts, emotions and imagination is quite tantalising. Neuroscience not only engrosses me, but also leaves me more curious with each attempt to quench my interest. ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’ by Oliver Sacks, truly sparked my interest in neuroscience as it highlighted the complexity of how neurological diseases manifest and how they’re classified based on their anatomical root of origin. Furthermore, whilst studying neuroscience in my second year at UCL, I was intrigued specifically by how each neurodegenerative disease is characterized by the loss of a specific neuronal cell population, and by the fact that protein aggregation is a key feature of many conditions. This ultimately triggered my interest in the neuroimmune response and how it can be modulated to combat the accumulation of protein aggregates. Currently, in my second year of medical school here at Lancaster, I chose an SSM (special study module) on neurological biomarkers, specifically whether DCE-MRI (dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging) can be used to detect blood-brain barrier (BBB) changes in cerebral small vessel disease, including cerebral amyloid angiopathy – which is characterised by a build-up of amyloid-beta in cerebral blood vessels. I learnt a lot about the analysis of MRI and the different MRI sequences and techniques currently used diagnostically in the clinic, as well as an innovative imaging approach to measure water exchange across the BBB (see WEX-BRAIN study). My fascination with the intricacies of the brain and how it works, coupled with my ambition to pursue research to further understand the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases and identify novel therapeutic targets, is the motivation which has driven me to take part in research in neurology."


Helen Cutler

Is a second year medical student at Lancaster Medical School. She's been interested in neuroscience since year 10 when her biology teacher gave her 'Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?' to keep her quiet in class. Helen has also recently completed an SSM on status epilepticus early after ischaemic stroke. She's attended the Bristol Neuroscience Festival every other year when it's run. Her main interest is around traumatic neurological injury and specifically how acute conditions can leave major impacts.


Saan Dyare

Is a second year medical student at Lancaster Medical School. He's had an interest in neuroscience since starting medicine. He's described neuroscience to his friends as a field of exquisite complexity and primordial in its importance to the human condition. He's demonstrated an interest in surgery and was a semi-finalist in the most recent Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh National Surgical Skills competition. He's also completed the 3rd Clinical Anatomy Series by the Richard Owen Surgical Society - Saan was particularly interested in the neuroanatomy. His recent SSM focused on status epilepticus after intracerebral haemorrhage. Saan is interested in traumatic neurological injury and neurological emergencies. He's drawn some inspiration from 'Do No Harm' by Henry Marsh and 'When Breath Becomes Air' by Paul Kalanithi.


University of Central Lancashire

Siddarth Kannan

Is currently a second year medical undergraduate at the University of Central Lancashire. He has been interested in the field of neuroscience since high school, as it is an ever-growing field and an area that is poorly understood. His interests include neuro-oncology & neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. He hopes to follow the NIHR integrated academic clinical training pathway in the field of neurology after finishing medical school. Siddarth is engaged in the NAPIER study, the National Audit of Pathways in Epileptic Seizure Referrals at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Siddarth has also recently achieved two publications in the field of neuro-oncology.

  • Kannan, S., Kannan Murugan, A., Balasubramaniam, S., Kannan Munirajan, A., & Alzahrani, A. S. (2022). Gliomas: Genetic alterations, mechanisms of metastasis, recurrence, drug resistance, and recent trends in molecular therapeutic options. Biochemical Pharmacology, 115090.
  • ‌Egiz, A., Kannan, S., & Asl, S. F. (2022). The impact of surgical resection and adjuvant therapy on survival in paediatric patients with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour: Systematic review and pooled survival analysis. World Neurosurgery.


Further reading

The man who mistook his wife for a hat : and other clinical tales / ; Sacks, Oliver, 1933-2015 (Author) · Book · English · New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek Princeton University Press, 2014. 271 pp.

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery. Henry Marsh. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London. 2014. 

When Breath Becomes Air. Paul Kalanithi. Random House, New York. 2016.