PhD student Syeda Mariam Riaz is back from an EMBL course on “Finding evidence in research publications”

PhD student from the University of Bergen, Syeda Mariam Riaz , received funding from IBA to attend an EMBL-EBI course on “Finding Evidence in Research publications” at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge,  UK. This is what she has to report on the stay.

Foto: privat. Group photo taken at the workshop.

My PhD study aims to understand the immune pathogenesis of primary and post-primary tuberculosis using human material from the pre-antibiotic era. Primary and post-primary tuberculosis are two different disease entities caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Experimental studies using various animal models have given useful insight into immune pathogenesis of primary TB, characterized by the granulomatous immune response which is very effective in controlling infection. However, there is a paucity of information on the immune pathogenesis of post-primary TB. Untreated human tissue was no more readily available after the introduction of antibiotics in the 1950s. This forced investigators to develop and use animal models for study. Use of animal models and lack of availability of human tissue for confirmation resulted in a new paradigm for TB pathogenesis dating back to the late 20th century. This has guided the research on TB since then and unfortunately diverted the focus from the true pathogenesis of post-primary TB. 

My PhD thesis requires a lot of literature review of difficult to access articles of the early 19th Century. To increase my understanding of the literature review I went to Hinxton, UK to attend a two-day workshop on Finding Evidence in Research Publications arranged by EMBL. It was a very informative workshop where I was introduced to Europe PMC, an EMBL data resource site. In the workshop, they also taught us how the researcher shares and cite data. We were introduced to different tools to search for data cited in the literature along with methods of text mining and annotation and searching for datasets on a specific research topic. It was for the first time that EMBL was organizing such workshop and this provided us with great opportunity to learn. I also got the chance to meet researchers from diverse background, to discuss new ideas with them and learn from their experiences. I am very grateful to IBA for sponsoring this course as it helped me build a network and gain international experience and exposure.