Sadia Zia, is a molecular biologist who specialises in human rare disorders and molecular epidemiology of emerging diseases. She is currently working at the University of Central Punjab as a senior lecturer and Faculty Industry Liaison Officer, where her key responsibilities are to work with industry to advise on prescribed health, nutrition and the well-being of people through industry-academia collaborations. She is also part of The Global Health Network open working group on COVID-19 and Community Engagement open working group.
What inspired you to work in research?
I grew up in a small town near Faisalabad in Pakistan, where medical health facilities (for females especially), were deprived of resources. The medical care centres were far away, and females mostly gave birth to their babies at home. Cousin-to-cousin marriages were, and still are common, which is the main reason for many rare genetic disorders. We have unfortunately experienced this first-hand within my own family too.
Wanting to learn more about these genetic disorders, I worked on an epidemiological population study of the Duarte galactosemia variant, which is 14% prevalent in the Pakistani population due to intra-family marriages. It was fascinating to work on the molecular aspects of how these genes worked and how they were linked to cousin marriages.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was once again drawn to the molecular aspects of intra-family marriages, as some families were having more severe symptoms of COVID-19 than others were. This led me to research and learn more about the immunological behaviours and genetic vulnerability of COVID-19 susceptibility in certain families.
This piqued my curiosity and has made me more determined and enthusiastic to work in this field under the One Health approach.
What is the most inspiring aspect of your job?
The collaboration, networking and continued learning helps me to enjoy my job. It gives me the opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone and work whole-heartedly with different industries related to the One Health approach. During COVID-19 I had the chance to work with The Global Health Network under the kind guidance of renowned researchers, this spurs me to continue working in this area to explore new horizons.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It gives me great pleasure to be able to do something good for my community. It gives me satisfaction and motivation when I think about the improvements that I can make and new steps that I can explore for future generations. Being a member of The Global Health Network working groups team, I feel so much better as a part of a community of savers and servers.
How do you see your career progressing in the next few years?
Well, I am not fully there where I want to be to serve my people right now, but I am working hard with the intention and direction to lead from the front in coming years. I want to highlight the vulnerabilities and strengths of my community internationally, where we all join to work for one cause, that is "Leave no one Behind".