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UHNM trainee doctor wins international award for diabetes research project

A speciality trainee doctor at University Hospitals of North Midlands has won an international award in recognition of her research into diabetes during pregnancy.

Tara Al-Rubyee, an ST4 Vascular Interventional Radiology trainee, has been awarded first prize for her scientific presentation at the Royal College of Radiologists International Meeting in Dubai.

Her research, carried out with the help of sonographers at UHNM, looked into establishing a relationship between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and gestational diabetes during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

It’s hoped her findings will help diagnose and treat women with the condition earlier.

Tara said: “The research project was the brainchild of Professor Fahmy Hanna, Consultant in Endocrinology and Metabolism at UHNM. If we can establish that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease leads to gestational diabetes during early pregnancy, then sonographers could start to scan women’s livers to see if they’re fatty or not during their 12-week scans using ultrasound. This would enable us to catch women going on to develop gestational diabetes, or have the high potential to develop the condition much earlier.

“There is increasing evidence to suggest that expecting mothers who have gestational diabetes will go on to develop proper diabetes, but if we can prevent this, we are significantly reducing diabetes in the general population.”

Tara has paid credit to her colleagues at UHNM for their support with the project.

She said: “This research project is a collaboration between two different UHNM specialities- endocrinology and radiology. I would like to thank Dr Ingrid Britton, Consultant Radiologist at UHNM, for helping to facilitate sonographers at the Royal Stoke University Hospital who were happy to get involved by screening patients with specific criteria, and Chris Marsh, Advanced Clinical Practitioner for radiology, who helped me prepare my slides for the presentation and helped with the data interpretation.”  

Tara also puts her success partly down to the recent flooding in Dubai.

She said: “I arrived into Dubai for the meeting during the recent heavy flooding, and as a result was held in the plane for a number of hours on the runway. During this time, I was speaking to the gentleman next to me about his thoughts on my presentation. Working in finance, he had little to no clinical knowledge, so suggested I made aspects of it easier to understand. I feel these last-minute changes, making it easier to digest, as well as including a couple of more light-hearted aspects, made a positive difference to the result.”

Reflecting on her award Tara added: “One of the main reasons I wanted to do vascular Interventional Radiology is I feel this is the future. You don’t know what the potential is, in ten years who knows what we’ll be able to do for our patients and I find that so exciting.

“I really wasn’t expecting to win, but I was super excited and happy. I could tell the audience and the judges were keen but didn’t think it was the best presentation. I only did the presenting part, the acknowledgement should also be for everybody else who did all the background work and the patients who were willing to participate.”

Dr Ingrid Britton, Consultant Radiologist at UHNM added: “The whole team are incredibly proud of Tara’s fantastic achievement. It was a pleasure to support her on this project and this award is well deserved recognition.”