City Mayor praises DMU for research in the community

The Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby has thanked De Montfort University (DMU) and researcher Kshama Joshi for her work with communities across Leicester.

PhD student Kshama’s research is investigating a possible link between ethnicity, diet and their impact on type 2 diabetes and she chose to carry out her research in Leicester due to its diverse population.

Peter Soulsby

After City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby had volunteered to attend one of her clinics, he was full of praise for her work. In a handwritten letter to Kshama, Sir Peter thanked her for her work as well as De Montfort University as a whole for its involvement with communities in Leicester.

He said: “I have been very pleased to be part of the very important work that DMU is doing researching the link between type 2 diabetes and diet in different communities within Leicester.

“It is another great example of DMU engaging and helping the communities and the city of which it is such an important part.

“I was particularly impressed by the professional (but very friendly) approach of Kshama Joshi, who knew how to mix good scientific research with the very best advice to me.”

Much of DMU’s research focuses on having a real-world impact in the community and Kshama believes that her work is evidence of this.

She said: “This is a fantastic collaboration of educational institution, healthcare organisation and community centres where DMU’s research work is actually reaching to people and creating an awareness.”

This initiative gives a vital opportunity to share information with the people of Leicester about the importance of recognising the causes of type 2 diabetes, rather than the symptoms.

In some cases, during the information gathering process, some participants showed early signs of diabetes. Such early detection may be a step forward in prevention of the disease, which could save valuable NHS resources which would otherwise be deployed in corrective measures.

Kshama added: “Professor Parvez Haris (her PhD supervisor) has been a great help supporting and guiding this vision and always being there during the journey. Without his trust in my abilities and vision for the cause this research would not be here.”

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Recognising the benefits to the community, Leicester’s leading GPs in diabetes care have participated in the research as lead stakeholders, allowing Kshama to set up her research clinics in their GP surgeries.  

NHS has strict guidelines when it comes to patient care and Kshama has been through an arduous process of obtaining various approvals from DMU and NHS Ethic Committee along with Health Care Authority (HCA) approval. 

“It was a lengthy process, but it allowed me to reach patients from our communities,” she said.

Kshama has also involved some of Leicester’s community centres, which has allowed her to reach a diverse population of people from various ethnic, social and economic backgrounds.

Around 250 respondents have so far attended these clinics at GP surgeries and community centres, where they spend roughly 45 to 60 minutes completing a four-part questionnaire which covers their demographics, basic health and diet information and a collection of hair and nail samples.  

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby recognised the benefits of this research for Leicester’s community and wanted to share his experience to encourage others to take part in the research.

Kshama is aiming to reach 400 respondents by end of 2018, she will then begin to analyse the samples and the data. She said that Sir Peter’s comments were “a great thing to hear as a researcher”.

“It feels fantastic,” she said. “For the Mayor to recognise my work gives me a real boost and a lot of satisfaction. It really gives me a lot of motivation.”

While studying for an MSc at DMU in 2014, Kshama became interested in type 2 diabetes which led to her enrolling for a PhD program at DMU in 2015.

She said: “If your mind can conceive it, if your heart believe it, then you can do it. I’ve always had a constant hunger and believed that I had something in me that I haven’t yet fulfilled and I wanted to go further.

“Becoming a full-time student after a break of about 16 years was not easy, but I have passion for the healthcare industry and a hunger for knowledge.

“I first moved to the UK from Mumbai, India, in 2002 with my husband. I had a postgraduate qualification from India. My journey from a housewife and mother to a retail cash point assistant to NHS administrative staff and now as a PhD researcher was not without challenges.

“Rough sea makes a great Captain, if one survives, and so far, I have managed to navigate the ship,” she added.

“It’s a rollercoaster ride. I am far from a ‘superwoman’, so juggling between often conflicting priorities at home front, being a mother of two kids and family is difficult, but if you have strong desire for anything, you can do it.

“As a mum I have to manage my time. If I am winning and my children are losing, then that is no good to me. It’s very important to me that we both grow in our own spaces.”
Posted on Friday 6th July 2018

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