Farah is a clinical academic trainee in Nephrology and Transplantation at the Wales Kidney Research Unit, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
Her training to date highlights a strong track record of commitment to excellence in clinical medicine and research. Graduating with merits from Barts & the London School of Medicine, University of London, she moved back home to Wales to complete her clinical training. She excelled in a wide range of clinical specialties subsequently gaining membership with the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP UK), and obtaining a national training number in Nephrology.
She simultaneously completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Education, from the University of Edinburgh, and has an active clinical teaching portfolio. She has also been an active co-investigator on multiple portfolio phase 1-4 clinical trials, with an early understanding of the importance of research and the value it adds to healthcare.
Having competitively obtained 6-months research funding (Wellcome Trust ISSF3 Clinical Primer Award. July 2017), Farah has been instrumental in setting up and developing the Cytomegalovirus Immune Responses (CMVIR: IRAS #235946) clinical study at the Wales Kidney Research Unit in collaboration with the Viral Immunology Group and Cardiff & Vale UHB, to investigate the important and incompletely understood problem of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection in kidney transplant recipients. This has resulted in successful international presentations, further research funding, and appointment as a Welsh Clinical Academic Training (WCAT) Lecturer & Kidney Research UK Fellow. Farah is currently completing her PhD studies under the supervision of Professor Ian Humphreys in the Viral Immunology Group.
Understanding how kidney transplant patients respond to cytomegalovirus infection
Cytomegalovirus can be dangerous for kidney patients
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a common viral infection and most people in the UK have been infected with it at some point in their lives. Normally, the immune system controls the virus and it generally causes few, if any, symptoms — but it remains silently present in the body after infection.
Because people with kidney transplants take drugs to suppress their immune systems and stop organ rejection, they are vulnerable to HCMV infection. Without treatment, HCMV can cause a severe illness affecting many different organs, including the lungs, liver, and bowel.
HCMV is particularly dangerous in patients who haven’t been exposed to the virus but receive a kidney from an infected donor. Although these patients are treated with antiviral drugs for three to six months after transplant, half of them still go on to have the virus in their bloodstream.
Understanding the immune response
Farah’s fellowship grant will allow her to investigate how HCMV interacts with the immune system in kidney transplant recipients and how the immune system fights this infection.
She will examine how molecules called cytokines — the soluble messengers of the immune system — help to control infection in those who receive a kidney transplant containing HCMV, and how the virus has adapted to manipulate cytokine responses in these patients. Understanding HCMV infection in kidney transplant patients is the first step towards developing new antiviral drugs to protect patients from this harmful virus.