Workington medical student pioneers extra degree at Durham University
(24 May 2006)
A Medical student is set to achieve a first, regardless of his final degree results.
Chris Ghazala, a 20-year-old Durham University student from Workington, Cumbria is the first to take an intercalated, or second, degree at the University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees. Chris is currently studying a year of molecular medicine as a year out from his normal studies in medicine and next year he will recommence his medicine degree and graduate in 2009, leaving university with two degrees. When explaining his decision to take on the extra workload, Chris said: "I enjoy science and I have always wanted to know how the body worked. I thought this extra course would be interesting and it would help me specialise later in life if I wanted to become a consultant. My father passed away from cancer six years ago, that affected me a lot and I wanted to help people in his situation." Chris received a bursary of around £5,000 from the South Cleveland Heart Fund in order to take on this new course and because it is studied over just one year it involves a lot of hard work. "I am the first person doing this course in molecular medicine. Hopefully more people will take it up, it's quite intensive and different to medicine, but it has been good, though strange with only me on the course." He recently completed a research project looking at heart failure and what causes of it, particularly looking at the brain. Dr Susan Pyner, a lecturer in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, was actively involved in securing intercalated degrees as an extra option for medical students at the Durham University. She supervised Chris’s research project carried out in her lab which was funded by the British Heart Foundation. "Considering he is a pioneer he has done remarkably well," she said. "It is hard work but he has thrown himself into it. Following on from his success we have another student doing it next year. We are very, very pleased with that and it's great to know they can do this as an extra.” Dr Adrian Davies, head of the South Cleveland Heart Fund which is giving Chris the bursary said: “We hope to give this bursary on a yearly basis. We want to make it a competitive bursary so the best people can take the year out to do it. We have to get good enthusiastic people and we are delighted to be able to offer it.”