Today’s blog is from Ahmed Alharthi, who in undertaking a PhD at the University of Glasgow. Ahmed talks about the PhD journey.

I am a licenced clinical pharmacist by background, who works with Dr Terry Quinn, a consultant physician and geriatrician in the NHS and a reader in Geriatric Medicine department at the University of Glasgow. I am a second year PhD student, employed and sponsored by Umm Al Qura University in Saudi Arabia.

I completed my MSc in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow, and then started to pursue my PhD in Cardiovascular Medicine. My PhD title is “Repurposing cardiovascular medicines for vascular dementia – a data driven clinical study”. My PhD work so far has focussed on dementia and associations with a group of medications called Anticholinergic drugs. I wish to understand the potential relationship between these commonly used medications and the incidence of dementia in older adults, because if there is a causal relationship this could suggest a potential modifiable risk factor.

In my work so far, I have conducted systemic reviews focused on evidence synthesis and had the opportunity to collaborate with the Cochrane Dementia Group, resulting in published paper. I am currently working on a dataset from a completed cohort the APPLE study. This offers me participant-level data that contain high-quality information on medications prescribed and consumed, with detailed information on changes in medication over time. This level of detail is often missing in studies that contain information on prescribed medications, but to truly understand the relationship between medications and dementia this granularity of medication data is required.

Given my professional background, I was eager for my PhD to include content related to clinical pharmacy practice. Among the ideas I have discussed with my supervisors are a real-world analysis of anticholinergic prescribing in Greater Glasgow and Clyde secondary care and a qualitative piece contrasting prescribers’ opinions on anticholinergic prescribing and the use of scales to identify anticholinergic risk.

I was motivated towards pursuing a PhD with a cognition and medications focus, as I was aware of the crucial role of clinical pharmacy to enhance medications use and possibly to improve cognitive impairment by adopting novel treatment approaches.

I am especially excited around the next step of my research, working with Dr Donald Lyall, my second supervisor. I will move from a relatively large dataset (APPLE Study) to a truly bigdata project, assessing for associations of cardiovascular medications and dementia in the UK Biobank, one of the largest biomedical databases in the world.

I am keen to engage with the Scottish dementia research community and look forward to meeting other researchers.

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