Faces of Pharm Sci: Ahmad Shakeri

Masters Student Ahmad Shakeri

What is your academic background and why is this area of research important?

I graduated with my undergraduate degree in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto in June 2018. During undergrad, I completed a meta-analysis of syphilis re-infection rates at St. Michael’s Hospital, and gained experience differentiating bile duct cells from human embryonic stem cells with Sickkids’ Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Program. I broached the subject of MSc supervision with Dr. Cadarette in December 2017 because of my keen interest in drug safety and effectiveness research. I wanted to apply my solid foundation in pharmacology and toxicology to real-world applications. I also enthusiastically participated in the Faculty’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program last summer, with a focus on osteoporosis and fracture prevention. Towards the end of the summer, and upon consultation with my supervisor, I decided to change my area of research focus and now I am working on understanding and assessing the MedsCheck program. Pharmacoepidemiology and health care service research is important for understanding drug utilization and safety in the real world. A great thing about working with a team completing research in diverse areas is that there is more opportunity to consider different areas of research focus.

What led you to your current Supervisor’s lab/research group?

Dr. Cadarette’s group uses advanced statistical and epidemiological methods to answer important drug utilization, safety and effectiveness questions. Coming from an undergraduate degree in “basic” sciences, non-experimental research methods were not discussed in depth. Therefore, I wanted to join a research group where I would gain methodological training in pharmacoepidemiology under the tutelage of a supportive adviser with evidence of student success.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome within your research?

My first challenge was learning to build critical thinking skills. I had been very successful in undergrad, yet largely through memorization. Graduate school is more about what you do outside of class, with focus on research, critical thinking, and professional development. I also initially found it difficult to manage my graduate deliverables. I recommend using a daily planner with specific daily/weekly/monthly tasks.

How do you see your current research playing a role in your career?

I plan to continue my education to gain more advanced skills to lead my own high impact research program or possibly consider clinical training to have a direct impact on patients. Regardless of the decision, the knowledge gained during my MSc training is invaluable and I believe will put me on the best trajectory for success in my future.