Khalid Garba Mohammed, Ph.D. Baal, a licensed pharmacist and postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, UK, was recently awarded the International Pharmaceutical Foundation (FIP) Leadership Development Workshop Fellowship in Seville, Spain. In this interview, the native in Kano State shares his experience.
Are there major prospects for young scientists outside Nigeria?
Relocation is a common experience for many young scientists. Researchers can expand their scientific expertise, discuss new ideas and create meaningful relationships and collaborations by moving abroad, or staying in their country to contribute more to scientific ideas, tracking the movement of early-stage young researchers around the world will create a complex network that joins the most diverse places , connecting the researchers to the long-time prize winner.
How did you win the leadership scholarship?
Regarding the LDW scholarship, I received the information about the application sometime around mid-July 2022, I applied reluctantly because I was not entirely sure about my participation in the FIP 2022 congress since I moved to the UK at that time. Of course, there were some specific requirements to be considered such as being a potential leader in the field of pharmacy, previous positions in the FIP Early Career Pharmaceutical Group, a motivation letter to emphasize that you are the right candidate and so on. Fortunately, on August 23, 2022, I received the wonderful news that says in part, “Dear Khalid, I am happy to inform you that you have been awarded to be this year’s FIP Foundation LDW Scholarship Winner.”
Indeed, this year’s FIP Congress presents me with an additional sense of belonging and responsibility. First, the leadership development workshop scholarship. A first of its kind to support emerging young leaders in pharmacy from around the world, jointly supported by the FIP Foundation for Education and Research, the FIP Academic Pharmacy Section and the FIP ECPG. I was honored as FIP champion of the year 2022, with a medal. What an amazing and humbling gesture. The scholarship is worth €2,500 to cover travel expenses to the FIP Congress in Seville, Spain.
You did pharmaceutical research, can you let us in on that?
Well, my research expertise revolved around applied pharmaceutical technology using artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing to make personalized medicines (dosage forms) for children and elderly patients with special needs. This is the field in which I did my PhD. However, I also have a passion for and am actively involved in other outcome studies related to the practice of pharmacy and the health profession.
Indeed, before I left Bayero University, Kano, I was awarded one of the prestigious Institutional Research Grants of the Tertiary Education Fund (TetFund) to examine the design and development of customized dosage forms (a special type of dosage form for patients with special needs such as those with swallowing difficulties). Second, I was on the BUK team that won the 2019 TetFund National Research Fund (NRF) to investigate the quality of artemisinin-based combination tablet (ACT) formulation in North West Nigeria. We are working extensively on this project by sampling antimalarial tablets across Kano, Kaduna and Katsina states and investigating their quality and to investigate possible causes of malaria treatment failure. Interestingly, I presented findings from these studies at the FIP Congress I attended in Seville.
Here at Queen’s University Belfast, my research is taking a completely different direction than my PhD. Focusing on medical devices that aim to address the treatment and management of surgical wounds.
What are the advantages of research at a younger age?
It all depends on one’s career goals, for people like me with a strong passion for teaching and research, an early start helped me connect with relevant stakeholders in the academic arena both nationally and internationally, which is very key to success in academia. Second, you started significant research at a young age like getting your Ph.D. In your 30s gives you opportunities for post-doctoral research to increase your research skills and independence. Well, what I didn’t expect was the fact that I had to take a postdoc outside of my Ph.D. the field of research. However, it is an excellent combination for understanding multidisciplinary research approaches.
Do you have any advice for those choosing a career in scientific research?
Yes, to succeed as an early career researcher, you must instill and foster a culture of honesty, humility and patience. You must learn to work with others as a team and avoid silos, learn to connect with professional organizations and cultivate the habit of collaboration, because if you look around, impactful research is all about collaboration, no one is the Ireland of knowledge, and you can’t know everything. So, be open and relate well with others in the same or a close field of your expertise. Be sure to develop your verbal and written communication skills. Finally, on top of these, you must be willing to take calculated risks.