Published 24 August 2021

Summer School Spotlight: Sherzah Jamal

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m going into my third year of medical school at the University of Glasgow. In my free time I enjoy video editing which makes the summer school project I’m working on really relevant to me.

The project I’m part of is about making interactive, personalised videos for cancer patients to help them make decisions on preserving their future fertility.

As a medical student, I’ve undertaken research on medical education for students but it’s been really interesting to look at this topic from a patient’s perspective rather than a solely clinical perspective. 

Why did you apply to join the DC Labs summer school?

Clinical summer projects didn’t take place this year because of COVID-19 and so I had a long summer ahead and not much planned! I decided to look for other internship opportunities and I came across DC Labs and thought it would fit in really well with my other interests.

I’m interested in medical technology and I’ve actually started a society at the University of Glasgow which is based around medical tech. The summer school project that I’m part of really stood out as it linked in well with medicine and my other interests in video editing and medical education. 

Tell us about the project you’re working on, where are you up to?

I started out by doing some background research on videos that are based around Object-Based Media (OBM). OBM is a way to make personalised videos so that each viewer sees a different video based on certain characteristics, such as personal selection within the video or their geographical location.

For example, the viewer could click on different options to direct the course of the video. In this particular case the options are likely to be based on the type of cancer they have been diagnosed with. 

I read a lot of research papers and watched examples of all sorts of videos produced using OBM to get ideas of what others have done and how this could be incorporated into this project.

I also did a lot of background research on the patient experience to find out more about what it is like to be a teenager diagnosed with cancer who is suddenly being asked what they want to do about their fertility. I tried to put myself into the shoes of a person in that situation.

I looked at existing information given to patients via leaflets and websites and thought about how I can use these assets and convert them into a video. I mapped each item and created a large flow chart for how each different part of the video would look and how it could be personalised.

 I came up with a lot of ideas and then tried to narrow them down into what could realistically be achieved within the project timeframe. I also had to consider elements such as how much information would someone actually want to put in a video in terms of data storage.

During this process I used a platform called Miro because it was accessible. I could easily share with my supervisors and they could contribute their thoughts and feedback in return.

I’m about halfway through the project now and my next steps are to focus on how long the filming should take and who should be speaking. I also need to examine the various interfaces and what the screen should look like.

I recently got a chance to speak to a group of teens with cancer. I presented what I’d been doing and gathered their thoughts and some really positive feedback

I’m part of this project for 9 weeks and will then return to medical school but the project team now has funding to take the project forward in October which is really exciting and hopefully there will soon be a prototype.

The ultimate goal is to create an interactive, personalised video where patients take away personalised content to support their decision making during consultations. 

I will definitely stay in touch with my supervisors and would love to see where this project goes. I’ll help out as much as I can!

What would you like to achieve this summer?

At the beginning of the summer school I thought I would develop more skills around techy things, for example how video editing works but this project has really helped my understanding of what it's like to be a patient.

I’ve gained a deeper understanding of what patients want from their doctor and I think that this will really help me when I’m speaking to patients with these conditions. 

This project has helped me to develop an awareness that I feel I might not have developed until much later in medical school. 

And what are your impressions of DC Labs so far?

Although we’ve been working from home, the weekly video meetings with the whole DC Labs team have been really helpful to get a sense of what everyone does and what projects they are working on.

I also have weekly catch ups with my fellow summer school students and these have been really interesting as well, especially to hear about all the diverse projects taking place. 

Everyone is really friendly too! I’ve never worked in this kind of environment; I’ve only ever worked in a clinical environment so it's been really good to have this experience and to see how everyone’s research and all the different projects and disciplines link together under DC Labs.