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Maesha Deheragoda

Maesha DeheragodaSpecialist Registrar at University College Hospital, London

Interview location: Wellcome Trust Building, Euston Road, London.
Interview date: 24th April 2009

Key Themes:Mentors and Influences, Motivation, New Technologies, Research versus Clinical work



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You might not see individual patients, but you certainly have the time to make an impact that affects a huge number of patients.In her 30s, Maesha Deheragoda is one of the younger generation of pathologists, yet finds herself battling some of the same old prejudices within the medical profession itself, as well as in wider society.  One active way in which she is challenging misperceptions of pathologists is in her education work in schools and museums, which she describes with great enthusiasm.  “I’ve done an outreach model [on the Black Death] which will be a huge amount of fun at the Natural History Museum.  [Developing it] was just amazing, one of the best experiences of my life!”

As a natural enthusiast, Deheragoda has had to find the balance between competing interests and talents – research, clinical practice and her public engagement work.  As she points out, many pathologists face this dilemma; for her the solution has been collaborative research on clinically relevant topics.   She accepts that she will not be “the primary person who’s coming out with the big ideas that are going to have huge amounts of funding behind them, but [will be] able to contribute in a very active way to an ongoing research effort,” while having the time and flexibility to maintain her diagnostic and public education activities.

As a Sri Lankan whose family immigrated to Britain when she was three, she touches upon issues of race, gender and the medical hierarchy.  Nevertheless, “I’m really very privileged,” she says, paying tribute to those “inspiring” people in the profession as well as her own family who have encouraged her.  This is a key motivation for her outreach work in inner city schools.  “It gives me a lot of fulfilment to be able to give something back in that way.”


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