Gurugram girl receives inaugural Malawi eHealth Research scholarship – Times of India

Despite being a national level athlete and a grade 7 pianist, Shivika Marwaha has always been interested in health sciences, particularly biology, chemistry and psychology. It was in high school that she started working on a research project wherein she investigated the influence of socioeconomic factors on the risk of developing non-communicable lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity in urban and rural Indian women. The Gurugram girl has also pursued internships at some of the private Indian hospitals such as Medanta and RubyHall Clinic while she was in school.

To combine her scientific temper with clinical skills, she decided to pursue Bachelors in Medicine at the University College Cork, Ireland in 2019, where she has been awarded the inaugural Malawi eHealth Research Center Scholarship recently. Earlier, she was also selected to do a research course at Brown University and be a research intern at CERN, Geneva.

Her current research focusses on risk assessment of Type II Diabetes Mellitus in low-middle income countries and high-income countries. The scholarship will provide her with travel support to gather primary data, conduct awareness workshops and risk assessment surveys in Malawi, Africa.

“Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as Type II Diabetes Mellitus are a major problem in low-middle income countries such as India due to inconsistent dietary habits, genetic susceptibility and the discrepancy in development rates in its rural and urban counterparts. The onset of the disease is often detected at a stage when the harm cannot be undone. Being a metabolic disorder, which is preventable, I believe that implementing risk assessment and analysing specific weighted risk scores is essential to reduce its global prevalence,” says Shivika.

Shivika, 19, had applied to be a student researcher in her first year of the medical degree for which she had to submit essays highlighting her academic interests. Post an interview with John O’Donoghue, who is a researcher at the ASSERT Center, School of Medicine at University College Cork, she was invited to be a part of the RAPID Diabetes study.

“I have been working on my fine-tuning my research for over a year now and the scholarship is recognition of my research having the potential to bring about global change. One of the outcomes of my study will be to look into the potential of eHealth apps in low-middle income country settings such as Malawi. I am also the youngest student among the five students who have been selected to research a particular topic,” she says.

Shivika is certain about incorporate research in her career as a medic. “I have not decided on a medical speciality yet but, my interests currently lie in Psychiatry, Gastroenterology, Digital Health and the Gut-Brain Microbiome Axis,” she adds.

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