A bit of a delay from my usual monthly post, but the last 6 weeks have been a whirlwind of fun.
March started with my varsity soccer match. Incredible success with a double-overtime, penalty-kick, victory over Oxford at their home stadium. Amazing to be part of the ancient rivalry and to come home victorious (pictures below).
I then had a wonderful visit from my parents. We started with amazing mediterranean food in London, exploring the Shard, Maltby Street Market, Borough Market and the Tate Modern before heading North to Yorkshire for a weekend in the countryside. They brought the LA weather with them and we had sunny skies for a walk in the country, old school British pubs, Sunday roast dinner and full english breakfasts. We capped off the weekend with a visit to the historic city of York, capital of the North at one time. Comparing modern London with ancient York, Cambridge was a fun medium. It was a pleasure to show them my lecture hall, dining hall, and take a crack at punting them down the Cam. We weren’t quite as good at punting as we had hoped, and ended up going in circles a few times before my good friend Tom came to the rescue. My parents insisted that I’ve developed a British accent, so I must have assimilated well. 🙂
Following my parents visit I buckled down, finishing off term 2 with a biostatistics midterm and submitting my paper on Marijuana smoke and head and neck cancer. My findings showed that, in fact, it is unlikely that marijuana smoke causes head and neck cancer, however more research is needed in people who are heavy users or daily smokers of marijuana.
Easter holiday was then a blast! It kicked off with the Cambridge vs Oxford boat race. We drank Pimms along the Thames and watched as the men’s and women’s teams rowed by us. The Cambridge women won, beating the men’s winning time from last year, but the Cambridge men lost. Either way, we were lucky with a sunny and warm day to partake in the historic event. Go light blue!
I then traveled to Italy, finding cheap Ryan Air flights to Naples, and visited the Amalfi Coast! It was absolutely breathtaking. Hopping between towns on the coast, soaking in the warm weather and eating our weight in pizza and seafood pasta. John Steinbeck coined the term “Moda Positano” to describe the laid-back, colorful, and relaxing feel of Positano, which was our favorite town. Another highlight of the trip was a day-trip to Pompeii. Incredible to see the ancient Roman town, dating all the way back to 79 AD, much of it perfectly preserved. I was particularly impressed by the engineering of streets and magnificent tiled decor of walls and floors.
Over spring break I also finally established a thesis project. While I had originally intended to work on HIV in Africa, the limitations of my degree made this difficult. For my thesis I am required to complete data analysis using statistical software to investigate a research question on data that has already been collected. Given the obstacles in completing research in resource-poor settings, the 20 or more physicians and researchers I spoke with regarding a project in Africa all told me the same thing – I would have to collect the data myself. Unfortunately I do not have time in my curriculum for this, so had to look for something new. I also have interests in cancer research, in particular how cancer incidence and outcomes differ in undeserved patients. With this interest in mind, I was able to find a project based out of North Carolina. I am using data from over 500 patients who were previously diagnosed with head and neck cancer, with many being African-american inhabitants of North Carolina. The most common risk factors for head and neck cancer are tobacco smoke and chronic alcohol use. Thus, it tends to be a disease that disproportionately affects individuals with lower socioeconomic status. However, no one has ever studied whether the cancer risk with alcohol and tobacco is modified by socioeconomic status. Therefore, I am developing a statistical (regression) model to explore how the risk of cancer changes with income, education and type of health insurance in addition to alcohol use, tobacco use and other exposures. Stay posted. I’m currently swimming in data and math equations that I need to sort out.
Easter term has now begun! I have two weeks of lectures left and then 10 weeks to complete my thesis, with some final exams thrown in in June. I will be traveling home in May to visit my family and hopefully pop by the San Marino Rotary club to say hello. I’m having the best year! Learning so much about public health research and England. I am extremely grateful to everyone in Rotary who has helped me to get here! I cannot thank you enough.