Interview with Zoya Marinova, medical doctor and freelance medical writer 

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Zoya Marinova, freelance medical writer on Kolabtree, shares her journey as a medical doctor and researcher and provides tips on how physicians can be more involved in clinical research. 

Dr. Zoya Marinova is a medical doctor and researcher in the field of neuroscience. She has a PhD in Experimental Neuroscience from Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and a Masters in Medicine from Medical University, Sofia, Bulgaria. In this interview, she talks about her experience as a medical researcher, her views on physicians being involved in research and how freelancing has helped her diversify her skills. 

With a background in medicine, you were actively involved in research for many years. How did you become interested in research? Did you have any research training?

I was very interested in the complexity of the pathophysiological processes that underlie human diseases. I was fascinated by the neurobiological mechanisms involved in disorders of the central nervous system and the opportunities to pharmacologically influence them. During my medical studies, I became involved in pharmacological research. Subsequently, I received the opportunity to formally train as a researcher in Sweden and completed a PhD in Experimental Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute.

Is it unusual for medical doctors to become involved in research, either part-time or to switch completely to a research career like you did?

Many medical doctors are interested in science. Moreover, the research training and activities of medical doctors may help advance both medical research and the clinical practice. However, it may be challenging for busy with clinical work physicians to find sufficient time for research. Fortunately, a number of global or country-specific initiatives provide fellowship or grant support to promote the involvement of medical doctors in research.

You spent four years at the NIMH (NIH). What was your postdoc experience like? What kind of projects did you work on?

My postdoctoral experience was extremely beneficial for my scientific training. I had the opportunity to work on the mechanisms of action of the anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug valproic acid. Valproic acid is a histone deacetylase inhibitor and exerts neuroprotective effects. Our work provided evidence that the heat shock protein 70 is involved in the neuroprotective effects of valproic acid. We also demonstrated that not only histone acetylation but also histone methylation is involved in the effects of valproic acid. Our findings helped gained further insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of valproic acid.

You’ve received several awards and grants during your career. Could you tell us more about these please?

After completing my medical studies, I received a training grant from the Swedish Institute, which allowed me to start research training at Karolinska Institute. This gave me the opportunity to learn methods for cell and molecular biology and their implementation in experimental neuroscience. Later on, I also received a career grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation for women scientists. This funding was very helpful in enabling me to conduct research in the field of neuroscience and to further develop professionally.

You spent over a decade in research before moving to becoming a freelancer. What prompted you to move towards working independently?

Working independently has given me the opportunity to collaborate on a range of exciting scientific topics, which has been a very rewarding and enriching experience. I also greatly appreciate the flexibility that this type of work brings.
As a freelance medical writer/editor what kind of projects have you worked on?

As a freelance medical writer/editor, I have worked on a wide range of research and medical writing or editing projects. I have consulted clients on the development of study designs, manuscripts, and statistical analysis plans. I have also completed a number of medical writing and editing projects, including scientific manuscripts, medical information letters, clinical documents, and educational materials. 

What are the areas in which you see biomedical consultants helping with the most? What is the biggest skills/expertise/funding/any other gap in the field according to you?  

Some areas like medical and regulatory writing, grant writing, and statistical consulting have traditionally often been and continue to be supported by biomedical consultants. There is also a high demand for biomedical consulting in rapidly developing scientific fields, such as data science, and novel biomedical technologies.  In my opinion, for the work as a biomedical consultant it is important to develop both professional and project management skills.

Do you think more medical doctors and physicians should be involved in research? If yes, why? 

I think that the involvement of medical doctors in research greatly benefits both clinical care and biomedical science. Physicians are well aware of the problems they face in clinical care that can be transformed into research projects. Meanwhile, the scientific knowledge physicians acquire in the course of their research work will help them stay up-to-date in the clinical care they provide.

What would you advise to doctors and physicians who want to be involved in research?  

I would advise them to consider both their career and personal plans to identify the most suitable for them form of research involvement. Such options may include both formal research training and direct involvement in clinical research. The collaboration with other researchers and the attendance of scientific meetings and training courses may also be helpful to identify topics of potential research interest and to acquire relevant skills.

Read also: Interview with Jane Hall, freelance biostatistics consultant at Kolabtree

Need help with conducting medical research or communicating the results? Get in touch with Zoya Marinova on Kolabtree. View a full list of experts offering manuscript writing services or post a project directly to get quotes.  


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About Author

Ramya Sriram manages digital content and communications at Kolabtree (kolabtree.com), the world's largest freelancing platform for scientists. She has over a decade of experience in publishing, advertising and digital content creation.

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