Professor of Global Health Dr Cheah Phaik Yeung, and Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine Dr Masliza Mahmod, are two celebrated Malaysian scientists at the University of Oxford.
Dr Cheah had been at the university for 17 years, and Dr Masliza for 12 years. They shared their journey to one of the world’s top research universities.
They both agreed about having to prove themselves, especially as women in such a competitive field. Both are passionate about research which is unsurprising as they had set their sights on science and medicine from a young age.
Dr Cheah said she had always been interested in medicine and research. “After school, I went to Universiti Sains Malaysia and got a degree in pharmacy. I studied about drugs, drug treatments and was very interested in drug trials and how a type of drug has evidence for treating a type of disease.”
Her passion for research led her to pursue a PhD at the same institution, and she considered herself fortunate to be involved in a big clinical trial on prostatitis. The findings of the clinical trial made a difference to her.
Her project, Village Drama against Malaria, won the University of Oxford’s 2019 Vice-Chancellor’s Choice Award for Public Engagement.
Dr Cheah, is based in Bangkok at the University of Oxford’s MORU Tropical Health Network, and is also the founder and head of Bioethics and Engagement there.
Dr Masliza, a clinician and researcher, agreed with Dr Cheah on the importance of engagement. She is enthusiastic about involving patients and the general public in her projects, which she refers to as patient public engagement.
She recalled working extremely hard to obtain specialist registration and a consultant position at John Radcliffe Hospital, where she now works.
“Currently, I am doing a couple of clinical trials: one is looking at sudden death syndrome.
“For this, I am looking at an inherited thickened heart muscle cardiac condition that can cause sudden death.
“Because I am a clinician, a medical doctor with a cardiology background, I treat patients in the hospital, consult, and give treatment. At the same time, I do research on them. So, I am wearing two hats.”
Dr Masliza, a member of the Steering Committee of the British Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Heart Failure Research Task Force, has earned many awards for her research on hypertension.