12 Jun 2018 Gaining a Better Understanding on Parkinson’s at Singapore Internship
Good day everyone, I am Cheah Chee Hoe (more often known as Calvin) from the cohort of BM1/15. For the next few minutes, I will be telling you a bit about myself and my experience as an attachment student in Singapore. As a final year student of IMU’s Biomedical Science programme, I was told that I had to complete a 9-week attachment and that is when I began to panic. What should I do? Where should I go? How should I do it? Many more questions consistently popped up. As I was facing such a dilemma, with the support of friends, family and lecturers, I was pointed towards the National Neuroscience Institute of Singapore and made my final decision.
I have always been excited when it comes to learning about neurological related topics, especially in neurodegeneration. Fortunately, I was accepted by A/Prof Lim Kah Leong as an attachment student to his research laboratory at National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore. I am placed to investigate several therapeutic compounds in treating the neurodegenerative disease, Parkinson’s Disease. Interestingly, I use Drosophila melanogaster (aka fruit fly) as in vivo model of my studies.
From this attachment programme, I have gained in-depth knowledge about Parkinson’s Disease and opportunities to practice different laboratory techniques. The attachment programme in National Neuroscience Institute also allowed me to learn several in vivo assays, such as studying the behavior of fruit flies demonstrating parkinsonisms using flight and climbing assays, which assesses the locomotor capability of fruit fly based on its inability to climb or fly. Not forgetting to mention that I had the opportunity to perform one of the most sophisticated technique, namely the microscope-aided fly brain dissection. It is a challenging process, just imagining the collection of hundreds of fly brains from its small head, which was later subjected to immunofluorescent staining. However, it is an exciting technique to begin, with fruitful experience to end with.
Probably, most of you would have imagine a working life of life science researcher as sitting in front of the bench, continuously working on some rather boring and routine procedures. However, that is not entirely true in Neurodegeneration Research Lab of National Neuroscience Institute.
Throughout the 9 weeks of my internship programme, I was given opportunities to attend various events in Singapore, with “Move to Beat Parkinson’s” campaign being the most meaningful one. The campaign is aimed at raising awareness on Parkinson’s Disease among the residents of Singapore. During the campaign, I took charge of the game session with Parkinson’s Disease patients and their caregivers to raise awareness, ultimately leading us to a better understanding of our research topics.
I have also attended various events such as the final year project presentation symposium at National University of Singapore, as well as the National Neuroscience Research Institute Singapore Day. These events and seminars have given me opportunities to interact with other experts and the public, which tremendously improved my understanding of Parkinson’s Disease and other life science researchers.
Most of the time, I am busy with workloads as I am required to plan my project independently. However, this does not stop me from exploring the foreign land during my free time. I spend most of my time swimming and jogging in my neighbourhood area to keep myself relaxed so that I can perform even better at work, allowing myself to break through my very own limit. Also, taking advantage of my time here in Singapore, I met up with some friends and explored several attractions in Singapore, with Gardens by the Bay and MacRitchie Reservoir being the most splendid and memorable ones.
I would really love to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my principal investigator, A/Prof Lim Kah Leong and fellow colleagues. I vaguely recalled how nervous I was when I first stepped into the laboratory, because all of them welcomed me as if I have been one of them already. I came to Singapore to learn about how a fly works and Parkinson’s related knowledge, however I have learnt much more than that from where I began. They gave me full confidence in my laboratory skills and trusted my results, greatly boosting my self-esteem. They gave me not only guidance on research, but also advices on my future endeavours and embarkment to another stage of my life. They treated me as if I am one of their family members. My internship programme wouldn’t be as gratifying and pleasant without the help and company of my colleagues. And I am truly grateful for that.
All in all, I have enjoyed myself at the National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore. I have gained beyond of what I can imagine and instilled with some belief that toughen my determination in life science research. I believe that continuous and lifelong learning is the core, working as a life science researcher, and I will continue seeking for challenges and stepping out of my comfort zone to improve, in order to be part of the betterment for the Parkinson’s disease patients. Lastly, I would love to end this with a quote from Benjamin Franklin –
|“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”|
Written by: Calvin Cheah, Final Year Student, IMU Bachelor of Science (Hons) Biomedical Science