I interviewed Núria Cortés, an alumnus from the Master of Clinical Research – International Health Track (ISGlobal-University of Barcelona) in 2014-15. I asked Núria about her experience doing the masters and how she found her way to start a career on research. After a few years of graduation, she has extensive research experience in Chagas disease.
What were the highlights of your studies at ISGlobal - University of Barcelona?
In my opinion, one of the best things of the Master of Clinical Research – International Health Track resides in its diversity. It allowed me to meet people from everywhere with a common interest but presenting many different backgrounds, which turned to be very enriching. Also, I would highlight the possibility of joining research groups from ISGlobal, which is a great opportunity to start doing research.
"It is really important to know what you expect from the master, taking into account your objectives and desires, as time flies and the master will last only one year"
How has your career developed since you graduated?
During my master studies, I started working with Chagas Disease, which I discovered to be a fascinating field of research. After finishing, I knew that I wanted to continue working with Chagas, so we applied (together with the Chagas Disease team from ISGlobal) for a scholarship from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) to do research in the field. I went to Bolivia, where I worked to strengthen the Bolivian Pharmacovigilance system, focusing on Chagas Disease and Tuberculosis. Since I came back from Bolivia, I have been working together with the Chagas Initiative of ISGlobal. Our team is involved in several lines of research: studying biomarkers of therapeutic response, performing clinical trials with new drugs, and finding new diagnostic methods, among others. Nowadays, I am doing my PhD studying extracellular vesicles as a possible tool for the identification of new biomarkers in Chagas Disease.
What recommendations would you give to future students for successful professional development?
I think it is really important to know what you expect from the master, taking into account your objectives and desires, as time flies and the master will last only one year. Once you have the answer, I would recommend to take advantage of all the possible opportunities arising and to be involved in the research team that best suits your needs.
"One of the most important challenges that research is facing is to bring together science and society, to translate generated knowledge into a social return"
What drives your passion for international health?
While studying, I had the opportunity to work for a few months in a Hospital Pharmacy in Costa Rica. There I performed a rotation at the different areas of the hospital, getting in contact with tropical diseases for the first time, and I became totally fascinated. After finishing my studies, I was convinced that I wanted to specialize in Global Health. If you want to know a bit more about my story with parasites, take a look at this post.
What are your plans or goals for the future?
My immediate goal would be to finish my PhD! Afterwards, I would like to continue working in Chagas disease, and I don’t discard coming back to the field. In my opinion, one of the most important challenges that research is facing is to bring together science and society, to translate generated knowledge into a social return. We should never forget why we are doing research.