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Join Mobuolafoluwa Onayade and Ayodele Opatola Vincent as they reflect on their recent placements with HDR UK Wales as part of the HDR UK Black Internship Programme. Mo and Ayodele offer a glimpse into their internship experiences, reflecting on their growth, discoveries, and aspirations for the future.

Mobuolafoluwa Onayade

Line manager/mentor:  Mohammad Al Sallakh/Professor Gwyneth Davies

What made you want to apply?

My passion and dedication have always been to actively contribute to initiatives to improve healthcare through research, education, the promotion of data-driven policies and evidence-based practices, leadership and resource allocation.

During my master’s in health data science, I heard of HDR UK and the black internship programme. I knew the internship would be an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge, gain practical experience and build a network to advance my career in health data science.

Tell us a little about the project you worked on.

I worked on determining asthma severity using asthma treatment steps. My project involved translating the GINA guidelines for asthma treatment steps into a research-ready variable using SQL and implementing a mechanism (Python module) that automated the creation of research-ready datasets containing demographic, clinical, and treatment information for asthma patients.

This project was to support the HDR UK Inflammation & Immunity Driver Programme in utilising health data to enhance the understanding of respiratory diseases, allergic disorders, and associated health outcomes.

What have you learned during your internship?

For my project, I worked with large-scale routine data held within the SAIL Databank. This involved handling the limitations of routinely collected data (RCD) in answering research questions. I also advanced my Python programming skills by writing reproducible modular codes and implementing best programming practices.

What did you enjoy most about your role?

Working with a multi-disciplinary team, learning different perspectives, and contributing to achieving the project objectives was exciting.

Why do you think this internship programme is important?

In addition to the main importance of the internship programme of tackling the underrepresentation of black talents in STEM roles, the internship brings together people with diverse academic backgrounds and skill sets that can be leveraged for health data science.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying for an internship?

Apply! The internship is an excellent opportunity to learn and contribute to impactful projects. It can also provide you with an understanding of how you can apply your expertise to health data science if you would like to pursue a career in this field.

 What are your aspirations for the future?

I plan to be a public health researcher, shaping health policy and driving innovation in health.

Opatola Ayodele Vincent

Line manager/mentor: Professor Sinead Brophy

What made you want to apply?

From the outset, my fascination with Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been unwavering. The prospect of leveraging machine learning models to propel healthcare objectives forward has always captivated me profoundly, shaping my career aspirations. An internship in this dynamic domain seemed imperative and an opportunity I could not overlook.

Tell us a little about the project you worked on.

My project focused on utilising a Logistic Regression machine learning model to identify key factors, with a significant emphasis on patients’ weight, that contribute to adverse events in children receiving oral antibiotics within primary care settings in Wales. My analysis leveraged routinely collected medical data housed within the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank.

What have you learned during your internship?

One of the most significant takeaways from my internship is realising how theoretical knowledge transforms into practical solutions in real-world scenarios. Moreover, I’ve learned the value of seeking guidance from experienced colleagues to navigate challenges effectively.

What did you enjoy most about your role?

Combining machine learning models with my background in epidemiology to enhance healthcare practices for the betterment of humanity was deeply gratifying to me. My internship experience has only solidified my passion.

Why do you think this internship programme is important?

Absolutely! Apart from providing a platform to gain practical experience, it gives minorities a chance at career advancement. I think the Black Internship program is necessary.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying for an internship?

I would advise knowing what they want from the internship before applying. Because of the program’s short duration, it is possible to miss out on many valuable opportunities.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I intend to build proficiency in Health Data Science to the point where I can become a Key Opinion Leader in the field.

Find out more about the HDR UK Black Internship Programme here and register your interest for summer 2025.