Zainab Imam is a paediatrician who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of premature and low birthweight infants. Her passion for neonatology led her to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Lagos, Nigeria, where she currently practices. But her journey to becoming a leading expert in her field began long before she landed her current job.
Zainab studied Medicine at the prestigious University of Ibadan in Nigeria before completing her postgraduate residency training in Paediatrics at the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan which culminated in the award of the Fellowship of the West African College of Physicians (FWACP).
But Zainab didn't stop there. She wanted to learn more about clinical research methods that she could apply to her work and generate context-specific evidence for other clinicians. That's why she pursued a thesis-based MSc (with Merit) in Tropical Paediatrics from LSTM in the United Kingdom. And, thanks to the Thomas Mark Scholarship, she was able to pursue her studies at the premier school of tropical medicine in the world.
Zainab's time at LSTM was transformative. She was taught by a diverse and seasoned faculty that expanded her knowledge base and sharpened her research skills. She especially enjoyed the Systematic Review for Policy and Practice module with Professor Garner, where she was permitted to use a Cochrane systematic review paper (on a topic relevant to her clinical work) that was not on his reference list. This opportunity made all the difference in her studies and solidified her passion for neonatology.
After completing her studies, Zainab returned to Nigeria to implement the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on feeding preterm low-birthweight (LBW) infants in LASUTH. She carried out an analysis comparing feeding outcomes before and after instituting the guidelines, which was funded by the Ken Newell Bursary Award (from LSTM) that she won in 2020. The results indicate that there has been a significant decrease in time to full enteral feeds and other feeding outcomes, but exclusive breastfeeding rates have decreased with concurrent increase in mixed feeding rates.
Now, Zainab is preparing to start a PhD in Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research concentration/field) at the University of Toronto in May 2023. Her training/time/work at LSTM is central to getting this admission. She intends to explore strategies to optimize exclusive breastfeeding rates and improve access to breastmilk (mothers' own milk or donor human milk) using mixed-methods research.
For prospective students, Zainab offers the following advice, be open-minded and receptive to all the faculty at LSTM, including the library. You may not get didactic lectures on every tropical disease, but you will be taught skills to apply to whatever topical clinical and research scenarios you may come across. And, after all, it is post-graduate school, so buckle up for the ride!