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Pathways: Malika Karimova

Can you tell us a little about your career and the path you took to your present role at FoDOCS? 

I am a final year Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences. I am a dermatologist with interest in rare autoimmune skin diseases. Today, I am investigating the role of the oral microbiome in those diseases.

What, if any, challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you navigate them? 

I am an international student from Uzbekistan. Getting a presidential scholarship from my country to study PhD at King's was hard from the beginning. I had to go through numerous selections and exams. Moreover, it was hard to find a good scientific supervisor. On this matter, I am very grateful that I met my current supervisor at King's, Professor Jane Serrefield. I thank her for believing in me by allowing me to study today at King's. She has never stopped supporting and encouraging my professional growth. 

Soon after I begun, Covid happened and changed my entire life in a way it will never return to before I started at King's. I lost my father during the pandemic after the second shot of the vaccine. After this, my mother had serious post-COVID mental health complications, which led me to return to Uzbekistan to help her recover. I do not know what exactly I was going through and how I continued the path I started. It could be only because of the incredibly enhanced support of my supervisors, foundation, colleagues, and the people I love. They all gave me hope not to stop, not to look back, and to go only forward, no matter what.

If you could, what advice would you give your younger self at the start of your career? 

I would not give myself advice in the past since the past no longer exists. Moreover, by the will of fate, my past may have gone as it should be carried out that I am in King's today. I do not like to look back, although I remember very well how my career has begun! Not looking back much helps me move on quicker. I change every day. People around me help me change and become better than I was yesterday. I don't regret anything in the past.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Embrace Equity’. What does equity mean to you, and how can everyone (regardless of gender) embrace it? 

For me, Equality is a chance to grow in a society where you are not separated or selected according to your religious beliefs, country of origin, gender, outer look, marital status, the presence or absence of children, or the amount of money in your pocket. Equality is when you can speak and be heard without punishment.