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Many congratulations to Dr Onima Chowdhury, awarded a £250,000 grant by the Medical Research Council

Onima Chowdhury
Dr Onima Chowdhury
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are malignant haematopoietic stem cell diseases that can lead to anaemia, bleeding and life threatening infections, with a significant number of patients progressing to acute leukaemia. Difficult to treat and often fatal, it affects around 50 per 100,000 in those over 60 years old, resulting in around 5000 patients in the UK. This makes it one of the most common haematological malignancies in the elderly.

However, patients referred to specialist services with suspected MDS are often unable to receive a clear diagnosis, leading to a delay in the delivery of available treatments. Current diagnostic methods are based on a reduction in the number of mature blood cells and the abnormal morphology of bone marrow cells. However, these findings are not specific for MDS.

To overcome these issues, Dr Chowdhury will collaborate with the group of Prof Adam Mead to explore the application of single cell genomics for the diagnosis of MDS. Dr Chowdhury will examine patient samples using this technique, alongside traditional diagnostic methods.

“I hope that this research can help improve the current diagnostic tests for MDS and capture more of the patients we are missing. This is essential if we are to provide the best treatments as early as possible for patients” Said Dr Chowdhury “More broadly, this work will provide proof of principle for the application of single cell genomics in routine clinical cancer diagnostics.”

Dr Chowdhury has been a Consultant Haematologist in the Oxford University Hospitals since 2018. She studied medicine at the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford, where she also completed her PhD in 2014.

The Medical Research Council Clinical Academic Research Partnership scheme allows NHS consultants with a PhD or MD to participate in collaborative high-quality research partnerships with established leading biomedical researchers.