“I feel honoured and encouraged".
That is how Dr Ahmed Abulfathi, a consultant clinical pharmacologist at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science's Division of Clinical Pharmacology, described his feelings on learning that he had been awarded the PanACEA post-graduate fellowship for his PhD research.
According to Abulfathi the fellowship will go towards assisting him in his research on optimising tuberculosis treatment.
The fellowship, which is worth €20 000, is aimed at bridging the huge gap in capacity for clinical research and the use of pharmacometrics to address the massive burden of tuberculosis in Africa.
The PanACEA consortium funds a number of MSc and PhD students with the aim of providing more advanced training to individuals interested in clinical trials. The overall goal is to create a new generation of young scientists who are ready to expand global capacity to perform clinical tuberculosis trials.
Abulfathi said the fellowship provides direct mentorship from world-class researchers in Africa and Europe, as well as exposure to clinical research, with an emphasis on early phase 1 and 2 clinical trials and much-needed competence in pharmacometrics.
Explaining his research, he said: “The first part will involve external validation of an existing para-aminosalicylic acid (PAS) population pharmacokinetics (PK) model. The second step is to optimise this model with pooled datasets from two studies. The third step is to simulate clinical trials of high once-daily doses of PAS using computer software. The fourth step is to actually conduct a phase 2 study with high doses of PAS, during which we will assess the safety, tolerability, PK, pharmacodynamics and pharmacogenomics of PAS, and then do a pharmacometrics analysis."
According to Abulfathi the fellowship motivates him to do even more in his research. “It is such an exciting opportunity. It means I can continue to work towards bridging the existing gap in capacity for doing clinical research in Africa. That could eventually improve TB treatment."
Asked about his future goals and aspirations in the medical field, Abulfathi said: “I would like to use my role as a clinician-scientist to provide solutions to diseases that affect us the most, particularly tuberculosis. I would like to establish a platform for precision medicine using the science of pharmacometrics and pharmacogenomics to individualise clinical care.
“Very close to my heart is collaboration with other research groups to not only advance scienc, but to train more local scientists in order to build capacity."