Meet Sophia Abusamra
WHAT YEAR ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR PHD ON?
I am a second year DPhil Candidate investigating the genomic interrogation of circulating tumour cells in prostate cancer. Circulating tumour cells are cancer cells that escape from the primary tumour and circulate through the bloodstream, offering important insight into the process of disease metastasis to the bone and lymph nodes and risk stratification.
WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? WHAT DOES YOUR RESEARCH INVOLVE?
My time is broadly divided throughout the week into lab meetings, conducting experiments, planning new experiments, analysing data, maintenance of my cells in culture, meetings with my supervisors, reading new literature, and working on writing reports or papers or reviews on topics pertinent to my DPhil. I often use my mornings to read, write, analyse data, or hold meetings, and then head into the wet lab and tissue culture in the afternoon to conduct experiments and take care of cell maintenance.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO A DPHIL AT NDORMS, OXFORD?
I am from Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA. I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2022, with a dual major in Neuroscience and Psychology, and commenced my DPhil studies at Oxford in October of 2022. Throughout my undergraduate career, I worked with Dr. Todd Morgan, M.D. at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center investigating gene expression analysis of circulating tumour cells isolated from the blood of patients with prostate cancer. This sparked my interest in the clinical and biological heterogeneity of prostate cancer, and led me to pursue a DPhil in prostate cancer research at the University of Oxford. I plan to continue my studies after DPhil by attending medical school, with the goal of pursuing a career in clinical academics.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DPHIL STUDENT AT NDORMS?
Working in the Botnar Research Centre has allowed me to be a member of the building’s community, and enjoy fun chats about science and life over coffee or lunch in the breakroom. This community fosters a collaborative atmosphere within the building. There are fun events like Christmas pub quizzes, coffee mornings, and weekly seminars that have given me the opportunity to build relationships with the Botnar and NDORMS community.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DPHIL STUDENT AT OXFORD?
Being a DPhil student at Oxford is an incredibly unique experience. The internationality of the postgraduate student body is a huge asset, and has allowed me to learn about and appreciate a host of cultures that I had not been exposed to previously. Furthermore, the college system allows postgraduate students to meet interesting individuals outside of their departments, research centres, and disciplines, allowing one to truly appreciate the host of brilliant minds that Oxford has to offer.