DeepMind sponsored me, a medical student, to study an MSc in Data Science. Here’s why.

Ivan Beckley
Sep 20, 2017 · 3 min read
Me after graduating from my 3rd year at UCL Medical school with a BSc in Medical Sciences with Global Health

Nearly two months ago, I published a Medium post titled: Why sponsor a Medical student to study an MSc in Data Science? In it I spoke about the challenges I perceived within the healthcare system, the need for data-driven solutions and why pursuing an MSc in Data Science, before qualifying as a medical doctor, was an important step for me to help overcome these challenges in my career as a clinician.

In outlining my story and goals for the future I described how, after failing to secure conventional sources of funding, I was relying on the little resources I had to fund my secured MSc place by myself. Yet, I was determined not to give up. And so, in an unconventional manner, I was also bold enough to ask for industry sponsorship in support of both my studies and, more significantly, my ambitions for a data-driven future in healthcare.

Your responses have been humbling. It is clear that I am joined by so many of you — non-medics and medics alike who see the need for bold innovations by future and present professionals to respond to the challenges we face in healthcare.

Needless to say, these past two months have been tough. In this time, I have contacted dozens of organisations, many of whom ignored my messages, a number of whom gave me an outright no, thinking I was too young to be of value. Except for one….

….and so it is with immense gratitude and excitement that I am able to share with you that I have been offered sponsorship from DeepMind to complete my MSc in Data Science for Research in Health and Biomedicine at UCL starting this academic year 2017/18.

DeepMind is the world-leading artificial intelligence company, based in London, and already working in the health-tech space. Beyond taking the time to read my proposal and learn more about my story, the team showed a warm desire to support academic research talent early. They showed a strong willingness to invest in those, like myself who are bold, ambitious, innovative and determined to work hard to change the world in a positive way through technology.

As a young black male of West African descent from South London, I was the first to go to university in my family — studying Medicine, no less. I took another ambitious leap by becoming the first medical student at my medical school to pursue a UCL MSc in Data Science. I hope my journey inspires others like me to pursue their own unique path in life — showing that:

  1. If you are unashamedly bold and proactive with your ambitions you are likely to achieve them
  2. The technology industry is for you and there are people willing to support you once you commit to thinking differently and striving towards becoming the best version of yourself
  3. Your background will only get in the way of your dreams if you allow it to

I am super excited to embark upon this MSc at UCL. It is going to be a challenge and a steep learning curve, however I am immensely grateful to have the support of the team at DeepMind through this journey. When I finish my studies next year, I will be interning at DeepMind to learn more about how data science can work with healthcare.

Without this sponsorship, my ambitions would have simply remained a dream. But now, I am well on my way to converting these dreams into a reality.

Thank you all for your support. This is going to be fun. Watch this space!

Ivan Beckley

Written by

medic + data @ucl. Tryin to create for healthcare