Deborah Akuoko

Ghana

MPhil Cancer Science

University of Manchester

Could you tell us a bit about your background, prior to coming to the UK? 

I had completed my Masters in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Ghana and started working as a systems administrator and IT Projects Manager. 

 

Please tell us about your Masters and the direction of your research 

I undertook my MPhil in Manchester in Cancer Science at the School of Medical Sciences. My project was looking at using the application of big data for improving breast cancer treatment. I had the opportunity to learn clinical image processing and applied research from world class professors and experts. I took courses that built my clinical research practices especially in data governance. The most exciting aspect has been our success through research to be able to devise a way to measure breast density; we hope that in future we will be able to correlate breast density variables with patient outcomes. These findings may be useful for the personalisation of radiotherapy to patients based on their breast composition. I also had the opportunity to attend the Medical Imaging with Deep Learning (MIDL) conference 2019 at the Imperial College of London. 

 

What are you currently doing now that you have finished your studies, and what are your plans? 

I plan to further my degree and complete a PhD, I have sent out applications and am awaiting responses. While I wait I have also engaged myself in a job in London with one of the UK’s big four companies. I am working as a dev-ops engineer and I find it super exciting. 

 

What started your interest health in data science? 

Firstly I love data science because of my natural passion for solving problems. I gravitate towards the most efficient and effective means of solving problems in the modern world, which we all can agree is via the scientific approach. Secondly, thanks to today’s digital world we are drowning in information, and one of the best uses of this outburst of information is to analyse and delve deeper into how it can help us to make better scientific decisions. Hence my passion for data science. Speaking of why I was drawn to the health domain, it is evident that everyone no matter which industry depends on good health to live and carry out their day to day activity successfully. This being true, then it must be that one of the most critical applications of data science is in health. I simply want to be involved in solving some of the most crucial problems affecting the world, and these happen to be in the area of health. 

 

Deborah presenting her research to her fellow DARA Big Data and DARA students in Cornwall

 

What would your dream job be, and where? 

My dream job is to help solve global problems especially in health, anywhere in the world but starting with my home country of Ghana. I want to solve these problems using data and scientific research approaches. 

  

What accomplishment are you most proud of so far?

In terms of research, I have improved my research skills and I am able to confidently review scholarly articles and challenge them where necessary. I am most grateful to my supervisors as they helped me to build this skill. Regarding medical image processing I have gained knowledge in using medical image processing applications to manipulate health images and generate data from them. I have also learned to use software from Mirada Medical and other open source applications such as 3D Splicer.

 

What advantages do you think there are for students with machine learning skills, particularly in Africa?

I think students with machine learning skills are in a better position to tackle problems relating to predictive analytics and automation. For instance can people spot early signs of skin diseases by taking pictures of suspected skin areas? With the application of image recognition they can. 

 

What did you enjoy most about the UK while you were studying here?

In terms of tourist sites Liverpool, York and Cornwall were the most beautiful places that I saw. I am currently in London which is beautiful too but I’m busy working so I’m not looking around much! I appreciated the many resources for me to complete my research; all the resources and facilities that I needed were available to me. I loved being a part of DARA Big Data; most of my happiest moments were when we socialised at events held for DARA Big Data and DARA project students. I still miss the DARA student event that we attended in Cornwall in December. It was fun and I would do it again! 

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