I am a doctoral trainee working at Human Dendritic Cell Lab (HuDC Lab), under the supervision of Prof. Matthew Collin.
The main focus of my research is to investigate clonal haematopoiesis (CH) as a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
June 2018 – Immunology North East Meeting at Durham: poster presentation.
February 2019 – Immunogenomics of Disease: Accelerating to Patient Benefit – poster presentation and lightning talk.
November 2019 – Genomics England Research Conference: attended bioinformatics clinic.
February 2019 – Bursary Award for conference on Immunogenomics of Disease: Accelerating to Patient Benefit, Wellcome Genome Campus.
May 2019 – NIHR Visiting Speaker Award (VSA).
July 2019 – Tenth NIHR Infrastructure Doctoral Training Award.
March 2019 – Medical Research Council £40,000 plus.
I completed my undergraduate degree in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Huddersfield, followed by an MSc in Molecular Medicine from University of Leeds. Currently, I am in the final year of my PhD, funded by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre.
The main focus of my research is to investigate clonal haematopoiesis (CH) as a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). CH occurs when myeloid malignancy-associated somatic mutations arise in haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in healthy aging individuals in the absence of overt malignancy. These mutations present a survival advantage to the mutated cells, leading to clonal expansion which is detectable in peripheral blood. The genes most commonly affected by CH are the transcriptional regulators DNMT3A, ASXL1, and TET2. CH is a well-known precursor to haematological cancers as well as associated with doubling the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and increased risk of all-cause mortality. Understanding the role of CH in RA is highly important. RA is a disease of auto-reactive dysregulated immune system characterized by chronic, polyarticular joint inflammation. The genetic and environmental risk factors contributing to RA are known, however, the pathophysiology of the disease is largely unknown. Somatic mutations arising with progressing age are well-understood contributors to diseases such as cancers but in RA it’s an underexplored area. Recent studies have provided evidence of CH-associated somatic mutations in driving inflammation through dysregulating the role of effector immune cells such as macrophages and neutrophils. RA is governed by pro-inflammatory processes, therefore, evaluating the role of CH-mutations is a step forward in understanding the complex biology of RA.
It is a privilege to be a part of the NIHR family and having the opportunity to contribute to the musculoskeletal research theme. The NIHR academy has been extremely supportive in providing training opportunities and awards to its trainees, which is a remarkable attempt to help the trainees build an exceptional research profile.
One of the main highlights of my PhD has been the Visiting Speaker Award (VSA) talk at the Rheumatology Research Meeting at Birmingham BRC. It was an excellent opportunity to present my work to highly eminent scientists and young researchers in the field of rheumatology. The visit has been a success in terms of meeting our collaborators with whom we are working on a study called the BIOFLARE study. The BIOFLARE study is a joint endeavor between Newcastle, Birmingham, and Glasgow, to investigate the biomarkers of flare in rheumatoid arthritis. I also had the opportunity to visit the research labs and clinics where most of the rheumatology work takes place. At the end of my visit, I received written feedback on my talk which was positive and highly encouraging. ‘Fareeha gave an excellent presentation and coped well with the questioning at the end. Many in the audience were impressed with such a mature presentation from a PhD student’. Dr Amy Naylor, Research Fellow Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, University of Birmingham
I would highly encourage other PhD students to attend as many seminars and conferences as possible. Such events are a great platform for networking, gaining additional knowledge and developing social skills, which are hard to attain when confined just to the lab.
The coastline and the friendly environment.