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BASc, PhD Raihaan Patel - Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Raihaan Patel is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow working in the Heart and Brain Group.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what attracted you to working at the University of Oxford?  

I joined the department in January 2022 as a postdoctoral fellow working in the Heart and Brain Group under the supervision of Sana Suri. My research is focussed on comorbidities as a risk factor for dementia. I was fortunate enough to meet and collaborate with Sana during my PhD, so when it came time to apply for postdoc fellowships I jumped at the chance to come to Oxford and continue working with Sana.

What is your vision for the research you are working on? 

Broadly, I am interested in what impacts dementia risk. More specifically, right now I am focussed on studying how being diagnosed with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease is associated with increased risk of dementia. My research uses large-scale population cohorts along with a variety of statistical methods to assess risk, and magnetic resonance imaging as a non-invasive way to study brain health.

In the future I hope to expand my work to consider more aspects of the physical-mental health relationship. I also hope to study what we can do in terms of interventions to reduce the burden of dementia. 

What is currently at the top of your To-Do List?

Currently I have a few projects which are close to making the jump from analysis to the paper writing stage, which is very exciting. I’m spending time on data visualisations to display results in engaging and interpretable ways, and trying to poke holes in my findings to make sure they hold up as well as possible.

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve been very fortunate to meet and work with wonderful people who have always had my best interests in mind. My research career started when my TA in a final year medical imaging course encouraged me to consider graduate school and introduced me to my future PhD supervisor. Both during my PhD and postdoc my supervisors have patiently supported my training, advocated on my behalf, and given me endless feedback on my analysis, writing, and fellowship applications.

As is true for most things, some luck and perseverance also goes a long way.

Who or what inspires you?

My parents. They have always been hard working, kind, and considerate and that motivates me to try and do the same.

If you were not in your job currently, what would you like to be doing?

My first thought was something to do with sports (perhaps coaching) as I enjoy them very much. But I asked my wife and she instantly replied “something to do with the weather and/or maps”, so that is probably the true answer.