I’m a final year PhD student, studying the burden of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and I work as a research fellow at the University of Birmingham.
I’m interested in the use of real-world data such as primary care and hospital records to answer epidemiological and pharmacoepidemiological questions pertinent to patterns of illnesses and the impact of different medications at the population level. I’m particularly interested in the epidemiology of PCOS, as this common condition affecting women is misunderstood, overlooked by researchers and funders, and overall dismissed as a women’s health issue.
I grew up in Chennai, India, a beautiful city home to beaches, delicious food and rich history. I first decided to pursue engineering as an undergraduate in India and went on to take up an internship at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology, USA. But after six months of intense work, I decided to move on and pursue something that involved fewer pipettes and animals, and more data and colourful graphs.
This is when I moved to the UK to study for a master’s degree in Health Research Methods and soon after, I felt I had found my calling. I then got a job in academia within a fantastic multidisciplinary team at the University of Birmingham. I had the opportunity to be involved in a series of epidemiological studies and published research papers on several conditions like PCOS, idiopathic intracranial hypertension (a rare brain illness), Henoch-Schoenlein purpura (a rash which can lead to kidney problems), type 2 diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnoea.
It was an incredible learning curve to hone my skills in data analysis and management, and also to gain valuable understanding of the biological underpinnings of these conditions. Our team expanded both in terms of the specialist knowledge and cultural, ethnic and geographic diversity brought in by several colleagues, and so my experience at the university got richer and more profound.
I’m now working as part of the MuM-PreDiCT team, looking at the effects of having two or more long term health conditions and the issues associated with medication use during pregnancy.
In the wake of the pandemic, I have also recently been involved in epidemiological work related to COVID-19 and Long COVID. When my colleagues and I published about the higher risk of contracting COVID-19 for women with PCOS, it helped increase awareness about the burden of living with PCOS. In the future, I want to use my acquired skills in the best way possible to further pharmacoepidemiological and PCOS research and bring empowerment and support to women with PCOS.
As much as I enjoy research, I equally enjoy my down time. I like to explore cooking and baking recipes, practice yoga, dance and play tennis and badminton.
Catch Anu in action this Saturday 5th March 2022 (1pm) at PCOS & The Pill: An International Women’s Day 2022 special online event!