With exams and interviews piling up, applicants often overlook the importance of recent medical news. What if you were given this question “Tell me about where you think the future of Medicine is going.”, a rather popular question among interviewers? Let’s see how one could potentially show the interviewers that
1) You have caught up with recent medical news
2) You have good scientific knowledge
3) You are interested in medicine, and not just a machine that takes UCAT/ BMAT/ A-Levels/ IB/ Pre-U robotically.
“Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), despite not frequently mentioned, is suffered by many. Not much is known about this group of diseases that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract, nor is there a cure for it. Thanks to GWAS (Genome-wide association study), researchers have pinpointed a few genetic variants that trigger it.
I believe that GWAS may be increasingly important to solve the mysteries of complex disease in the future (diseases caused by both genetic and environmental factors, which include cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases (e.g. type II diabetes mellitus), neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s’)), since they are placing an increased burden on the health services. It could also aid drug discovery and the development of precision in the years to come. Despite our advances in genome mapping and sequencing, our understanding is still limited, since complex diseases don’t follow the well-understood Mendelian pattern of inheritance and one having the genes does not guarantee that they will develop features of the disease, it makes it hard for scientists to predict the disease risk and to develop a treatment plan.
With GWAS, which essentially is an analysis algorithm which looks at the allele frequencies between people with the diseases (“cases”) and those without (“controls”), scientists can now discover risk alleles for the disease (The theory behind this is simple: if an allele with a particular SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) – a variation in a single nucleotide at a specific position in the genome – has a higher frequency in cases than controls, it is deemed a risk allele for the disease.) Certainly, there remain some limitations – for instance, a higher frequency of an allele with the disease could merely be attributed to chance.”
You could also use this opportunity to link it to something you have done (e.g. a genetic research placement / talking to patients with IBD). So, grab the next copy of Science magazine, and happy reading!