Spotlight on Omar Elfeky, UQ-Ochsner Program, Exosome Biology Laboratory UQCCR

13 Jan 2016

Why do you want to be a  doctor? 

Since high school it was clear that science was one of my strengths and that was evident as I chose to get a degree in Biology. It was during my undergraduate years when I took an Emergency Medical Services course and served in an ambulance in Clifton, New Jersey. While working there, I was inspired to put myself into a position to help my patients even more than I currently was. When this opportunity to join UQ Oshner School of Medicine arose, I immediately jumped on it.

Why do research?

Medicine is changing before very our eyes, as new ideas, techniques, and treatments are being introduced more rapidly than ever. Being apart of clinical research at this juncture is an exciting time and it would be a shame to see such an opportunity pass me by. Research is not only an extracurricular activity in Medical School because the experience gained will aid and improve my skills as a physician and that puts me in a position to do even more for my patients.  

Tell us about your research

The general aim of my project is to determine the role of placental exosomes during pregnancy in obese women. Overweight and obesity have been recognised as an important public health issue in Australia, where recent findings show that up to 52% of Australian women are overweight or obese, including 35% of women aged between 25-35 years of age (reproductive age). Moreover, about 1 in 3 Australian women are overweight or obese at the start of their pregnancy, with serious consequences for both mother and baby. In fact, overweight and obesity are the most powerful drivers for the onset and development of gestational diabetes mellitus, (GDM) with short and long term consequences for both mother and child.

As a medical student, what are your professional plans for the next years?

For the next few years, my first priority is to pass my exams and focus on the USMLE STEP exams. I also plan to continue my research here at UQCCR while I am in Australia, and carry over my work to our counterparts at Ochsner during my clinical years.

What do you think of the UQ-Ochsner program?

Personally, joining this program has been one of the greatest decisions of my life. Not only have I had the chance to travel across the world during medical school, but I have also managed to make great friends here in Australia. My time at UQ has been great thus far. Along with the challenging curriculum of medical school, I have met doctors such as Dr. Greg Duncombe who have been a respected mentor for me since the day I met him. I have valued UQ’s options to get involved in research. I consider myself lucky to have met Dr. Carlos Salomon who has been an exceptional role model and who is outstandingly supportive of medical school students doing research.

Tell us about your awards

With the support of the entire Exosome Biology Laboratory team, I won 2 awards in 2015:

  • The Y.W. Loke New Investigator Travel Award, at the International Federation of Placental Associations conference “in recognition of the excellence of the abstract submitted for the IFPA meeting, 8th-11th September 2015, Brisbane, Australia
  • The QIMR Berghofer award for the Most Innovative Research at the UQ School of Medicine Research Conference 2015.

What is your advice for students?

The one thing I would tell students who have made the decision to join our medical school program is to come prepared. Although medical school is very demanding on your time, it is not impossible to do more. UQ and Ochsner have a ton to offer both academically and also from an extracurricular opportunity perspective. So, go forth! And discover what interests you, get involved and Create Change.

Exosome Biology Laboratory EBL Team Pic 2015 Cropped
Exosome Biology Laboratory team