Ms Youssra al Hajji (University of Birmingham), Ms Harriet Taylor (University of Oxford)- Opinion Editorial (UK COVID/cancer student leads)

Opportunities for active participation in research can be limited at medical school, given the demanding clinical placements and the volume of knowledge required for assessments. However, leading this research project with a fellow medical student has been invaluable training for a future academic career, and has fuelled our desire to continue contributing to scientific research. 

We published the largest global systematic review of antibody responses in cancer patients. It has been a great learning curve for the both of us, from the first step of initiating the search and extracting the relevant papers, to critically analysing and appraising the relevant studies.

This experience has also proved to be very enjoyable and stimulating. It was satisfying to work alongside a student with similar research interests, especially as we both shared the desire to produce a good quality and clinically-relevant paper that could have a real impact for cancer patients in the community.

Even though the project was demanding and took several months, our combined efforts and enthusiasm for the end goal made this an incredibly rewarding endeavour.

It was made all the more fulfilling due to the fantastic support from our supervisors, Dr Lennard Lee and Dr Michael Tilby, and has really highlighted to us the importance of teamwork and collaboration in research. 

Overall, we would encourage students to actively seek out research opportunities, especially ones where students can take the lead, since this is such a valuable learning opportunity for those who are thinking about pursuing an academic career in medicine. 

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