Arish Hussain

Baltimore, Maryland
Arish Hussain


My 6 week research elective commenced in the third week of September 2019 under the mentorship of Dr. Jeff Tornheim. I began by contacting Dr. Tornheim before coming to Baltimore and reading up on his work to familiarise myself with the topics. My primary aim for this block was to learn all the components that go into the making of an accurate scientific research paper.  On reaching Baltimore, I attended an orientation session to meet my peers and toured the campus. We then set the  first week’s targets. The first thing Dr. Tornheim recommended was a thorough read up of the study proposal and consent forms, to understand the building blocks of a study. This helped me get in the mind of the research team and know the micro-planning crucial for developing a scientifically and practically sound study. From there we moved on to polishing an already present set of skills, i.e. writing. I worked on the Discussion and Limitations sections of a paper comparing treatment outcomes of pre-XDR TB patients based on the administration of 600 mg moxifloxacin. This work involved extensive perusal of countless other published studies in order to interpret and correlate the findings of Dr. Tornheim’s paper. Reading multiple publications, only to compress them down into a few words on the discussion section, taught me the importance of extrapolation and clear communication needed to share a study's findings. On successfully completing this work, we moved onto the backbone of every cohort study; the data analysis. These were entirely new grounds for me. I started off by learning the basics of statistical epidemiology to understand what data manipulation would best attain the study's primary goal. The next step was to learn a data programming language for proceeding with the chosen data analyses. Dr. Tornheim uses RStudio the most, so that's what I set about learning. My goal was plotting a Cox regression curve to determine the factors that improved the treatment outcome of pre XDR TB patients. This required significant knowledge of other tests to be run prior to the main analysis. Along with that I learnt feature selection and weeding out errors that occurred while running the code. This helped me really understand the process of  data collection and manipulation done to achieve a study's primary objective. It was a wonderful experience which taught me a great deal about the entire process of research, from its conceptualisation to its publication. Concomitantly, I also attended the TB conferences, case discussions and weekly research meetings, all of which instilled an enthusiasm towards the work I was doing. It taught me dedication and paying minute attention to detail, along with presentation skills, which are crucial for a researcher to share his/ her findings with the rest of the world. As of now I have submitted the final version of my Cox regression analysis and am awaiting Dr. Tornheim's reply for further directions or potential tweaks needed. It has been a wonderful experience so far. The knowledge gained will enable me to contribute significantly in future undertakings. I hope to stay involved with future projects and any new opportunities that arise in the CCGHE Department. I further plan to apply in undergraduate research opportunities, both by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and international organizations. 

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