Nuthar Jassam – Clinical Biochemistry
Science came naturally to Nuthar at school and after a chemistry degree in her native United Arab Emirates, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry. But on a visit to Britain, she fell in love. She then married and came to live in Leeds. But her life as a stay at home mum to their two children changed dramatically when her husband developed a chronic heart condition and was no longer able to work.
She urgently needed a job so she took a diploma in medical laboratory sciences and started work as a trainee clinical biochemist in Leeds General Infirmary. It was a time of enormous pressure because she was also caring for her husband. “I rarely got more than four hours of sleep at a time”. She took exams to gain an MSc degree as her husband lay critically ill in intensive care waiting for a transplant. He died not long afterwards.
Nuthar has now been working as a clinical biochemist in Leeds for eight years. She loves her job. “Test results are often complex and my job is to interpret their meaning. People think scientists are locked up in laboratories but I attend ward rounds and spend a lot of time talking to doctors and to patients which I really enjoy. I’m a detective. I look for patterns and link them to information about symptoms from doctors to arrive at a diagnosis. It gave me great satisfaction recently when I was able to diagnose a very rare metabolic disease in a patient with puzzling symptoms. It saved the patient from having much more invasive tests. Even more satisfying was remembering two other patients with similar problems that we were able to prove had the same condition”. Her husband would be very proud.
Profile courtesy of Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Health – Professor Sue Hill