How I topped other scientists to win Spain’s leadership award – Pharm Mohammed

Khalid Garba Mohammed, and Ph.D. holder, licensed pharmacist, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom, recently emerged winner of the maiden International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Foundation Leadership Development Workshop Scholarship in Seville, Spain. In this interview, the Kano State indigene shares his experience.

Are there key prospects for young scientists outside Nigeria?

Relocating is a common experience for many young scientists. Researchers can broaden their scientific expertise, discuss new ideas, and create meaningful relationships and collaborations by moving abroad, or staying in their own country to contribute more to scientific ideas, tracking the movement of early-stage of young researchers around the world would create a complex network joining the most diverse places, connecting the researchers to the old laureate.

How did you emerge winner of the leadership scholarship?

About the LDW scholarship, I got the information about the application sometime around mid-July 2022, I reluctantly applied because I was not totally sure about my participation in the 2022 FIP Congress since I just moved to the UK at that time. Of course, there were some specific requirements to be considered like being a potential leader in the field of pharmacy, previous roles in the FIP Early Career Pharmaceutical Group, a motivation letter to highlight that you are the right candidate and so on. Luckily, on 23rd August 2022, I received the wonderful news that reads in part, “Dear Khalid, I am pleased to inform you that you have been awarded to be this year’s recipient of the FIP Foundation LDW Scholarship”.

Indeed, this year’s FIP congress presents me with an additional sense of belonging and responsibility. First, the Leadership Development Workshop scholarship. First of its kind to support young emerging leaders in pharmacy from across the world, a collaborative support from the FIP Foundation for Education and Research, FIP Academic Pharmacy Section and FIP ECPG. I was honored as a FIP Champion this year 2022, with a medal. What an amazing and humbling gesture. The scholarship is worth 2,500 Euros to cover travel expenses to the FIP congress in Seville, Spain.

You have been into pharmaceutical research, could you let us into this?

Well, my research expertise revolved around Applied Pharmaceutical Technology using artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing to prepare personalized medicines (dosage forms) for children and elderly patients with special needs. That is the area I did my Ph.D. However, I also have a passion for and am actively involved in other outcome research related to pharmacy practice and the healthcare profession.

Indeed, before I disengaged with Bayero University, Kano, I was privileged to have won one of the prestigious Tertiary Education Fund’s (TetFund) institutional-based research grants to investigate the design and development of personalized dosage forms (a special type of dosage form for patients with special needs such as those with swallowing difficulties). Secondly, I was among the BUK team that won the 2019 TetFund National Research Fund (NRF) to investigate the quality of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) tablets formulation in Northwest Nigeria. We work extensively on this project by sampling anti-malaria tablets across Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina states and investigating their quality and to investigate possible causes of malaria treatment failure. Interestingly, I presented findings from these studies at the FIP congress I attended in Seville.

Here at Queen’s University Belfast, my research is taking a completely different direction from my Ph.D. focusing on medical devices aiming to address surgical wound care and management.

What are the benefits of doing research at a younger age?

That all depends on one’s career goals, for people like me with a strong passion for teaching and research, starting early helped me to network with relevant stakeholders within the academic arena at both national and international levels, which is very key to success in academia. Secondly, starting meaningful research at an early age like getting your Ph.D. in your 30s gives you opportunities for postdoctoral research to boost your research skills and independence. Well, what I did not expect is the fact that I had to take a postdoc position outside my Ph.D. research domain. However, it is an excellent blend to understand multidisciplinary research approaches.

Do you have any tips for those picking a career in scientific research?

Yes, to succeed as an early career researcher, you must inculcate and cultivate a culture of honesty, humility, and patience. You must learn to work with others as a team and avoid silos, learn to engage with professional organizations and cultivate the habit of collaboration because if you look around, impactful research is all about collaboration, nobody is an Ireland of knowledge, and you cannot know it all. So, be open-minded and relate well with others in the same or closely related field of your expertise. Ensure to develop your verbal and written communication skills. Finally, on top of these, you must be willing to take calculated risks.

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