Gurugram girl receives first Malawi eHealth Research grant
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Although Shivika Marwaha is a national athlete and 7th grade pianist, she has always had an interest in health sciences, particularly biology, chemistry, and psychology. In high school, she began working on a research project examining the influence of socio-economic factors on the risk of developing non-communicable lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in urban and rural Indian women. The Gurugram girl also did internships in some private Indian hospitals such as Medanta and RubyHall Clinic during her school days.

In order to combine her scientific temperament with clinical skills, she decided to do a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine at University College Cork in Ireland in 2019, where she recently received the first Malawi eHealth Research Center scholarship. Previously, she was also selected for a research course at Brown University and as a research intern at CERN in Geneva.

Her current research focuses on the risk assessment of type II diabetes mellitus in lower-middle-income and high-income countries. The scholarship provides her with travel assistance to collect primary data, conduct awareness workshops and risk assessment surveys in Malawi, Africa.

“Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like type II diabetes mellitus are a major problem in lower-middle-income countries like India due to inconsistent diets, genetic vulnerability and the discrepancy in development rates in rural and urban areas. Often times, the onset of the disease is detected at a stage when the damage cannot be reversed. As a preventable metabolic disorder, I consider the implementation of a risk assessment and the analysis of specific weighted risk assessments to be essential to reduce the global prevalence, ”says Shivika.

19-year-old Shivika had applied in her freshman year of medicine, for which she had to submit essays highlighting her academic interests. After an interview with John O’Donoghue, a researcher at the ASSERT Center of the School of Medicine at University College Cork, she was invited to participate in the RAPID Diabetes Study.

“I’ve been fine-tuning my research for over a year, and the fellowship is recognition of my research that has the potential to bring about global change. One of the results of my study will be to examine the potential of eHealth apps in low to middle income countries like Malawi. I am also the youngest student among the five students selected to research a particular topic, ”she says.

Shivika is sure to incorporate research into her medical career. “I haven’t decided on a medical specialty yet, but my interests right now are psychiatry, gastroenterology, digital health, and the gut-brain-microbiome axis,” she adds.

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