Shivika Marwaha, from Gurgaon, is a 19-year-old 2nd-year medical student at University College Cork, Ireland. She graduated from The Shri Ram School, Aravali, and went on to pursue her IB Diploma Programme at the Mahindra United World College of India in Pune. She was recently awarded the inaugural Malawi eHealth Research Centre Scholarship which will provide her with an opportunity to extend on her previous research activities in India regarding the socioeconomic factors influencing the risk of developing obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in rural and urban Indian women.
We spoke with her about this and more.
DissDash: How did you come across the scholarship from Malawi eHealth Research Centre?
Shivika Marwaha: One of the major reasons University College Cork appealed to me was because it plays a very active role in health research as seen in the ASSERT Center and APC Microbiome Institute. I decided to apply to be a student researcher in my first year at university itself and got the opportunity to work on a project co-supervised by Dr. John O’Donoghue and Dr. Patrick Henn. My research project investigates the risk assessment of Type II Diabetes Mellitus in Low-Middle Income Countries and as the ASSERT Center has affiliations with the Malawi eHealth Research Centre, they, along with the international advisory board believed that my project had the potential to be implemented in a real-life scenario thus, providing me the opportunity to fly down to Malawi and conduct primary data collection.
DissDash: What was the process of application and how much time did you have to invest to get it?
Marwaha: I had applied to be a student researcher in my 1st year itself because I knew it was something that really interested me. I then had to submit an application regarding why I would be suitable along with my CV. The application was open to all students (undergraduate and postgraduate medical students from all years), which definitely intimidated me, but I decided to apply nonetheless. Later, I got invited to attend an interview with Dr. John O’Donoghue who then offered me to work with him on a research project about Type II Diabetes Mellitus. 5 students then got selected to be researchers in various topics and based on the efforts put in, outcomes of the study and scope of the project, the supervisors along with the international advisory board selected one student to be the recipient of the Malawi eHealth Research Center Scholarship.
DissDash: How did you feel when you found out that you have been granted the scholarship?
Marwaha: I was thrilled to hear to be selected as the inaugural recipient of the Malawi eHealth Research Center Scholarship! It reinforced the fact that the research I was doing was valid and had the potential to bring about a positive impact on the healthcare community. It made me realize that hard work pays off and if you keep working on what you’re passionate about, doors will open for you no matter what.
DissDash: How do you think your research will help in the field of diabetes?
Marwaha: I intend for my research to assess the current variables that are taken into account for calculating diabetes-specific weighted risk scores. As of now only quantitative factors such as Body-Mass Index are included but we believe that some qualitative factors could also play an integral role. Moreover, we hope to form the foundation for mHealth applications in Low-Middle Income Country settings as this could assist self-monitoring and regulation in patients significantly.
DissDash: What or whose was the most memorable reaction that you got from your loved ones?
Marwaha: I recall my elder sister, Taarini being extremely excited, even more than I was when I received the good news! My elder sister has always played a supporting role in my life and has taken pride in all of my accomplishments. Although I had to tell her the news during a FaceTime call as I was in college at the time, her reaction was nothing short of over joyous!
DissDash: What are your future plans?
Marwaha: As of now, I am thoroughly enjoying my research experience but I definitely do want to practice as a doctor as well. Although I don’t have a specific specialization in mind, my interests currently lie in digital health, psychiatry, gastroenterology, and the gut-brain microbiome axis.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.