11 Jul 2017 IMU Biomedical Science Alumnus: Research and Sales Experiences

Hi, I am Owen Teo Siew Yong. I have completed the IMU biomedical science degree, followed by IMU Master’s degree in the field of pharmaceutical science research. Instead of continuing onto the obtaining a PhD, I have decided to accept a new challenge. As such, I am currently working in a French multinational pharmaceutical company, Sanofi as a medical sales executive.

IMU Biomedical Science Alumnus, Owen Teo

I decided not to continue my studies to PhD level for various reasons. Firstly, I would like to ensure that I am well-compensated financially for my work. The knowledge gained through the PhD process will significantly elevate my credibility throughout the course of my career but that seldom applies to the salary. Honestly, it is disheartening to see my friends advancing in careers and establishing wealth while I spend several years in university with a minimum stipend. Secondly, I hope that I can be an entrepreneur in the future. The PhD degree itself is not a prerequisite to being a successful entrepreneur but working experiences and networking will definitely play important roles to being a successful entrepreneur. However, I may consider to continue PhD in the future for meeting requirements in certain jobs or become a subject-matter expert.

Looking back at my days in IMU studying biomedical science, I have encountered many challenges and responsibilities including being a batch representative. Honestly, the workload was very heavy. However, it pushed me to surpass my own abilities and maximize my potential. Hence, I am always able to deliver my work to the highest standard.  Furthermore, I was highly encouraged by seniors and lecturers to join co-curricular activities. Therefore, I took part in IMU Cup events (eg Chinese Chess) and joined orientation committee as the chief orientation officer.

I also worked collaboratively with biomedical scientists to form a Malaysia’s biomedical science research hub, BioMedKL, a platform to discuss future prospects of biomedical sciences in Malaysia. These experiences and interpersonal skills are very useful for me in my current job or daily activities.

Having fun at one of IMU's Student Activities

I chose to continue my Master’s studies at IMU mainly due to the great supervisors and excellent research environment at IMU. My master’s project entitled “Synthesis and Characterisation of Novel Palm Kernel Oil-based Alkyds and Evaluation of their Potential as Pharmaceutical Excipients for Topical Nanoemulsions”. Basically, my research is to develop novel alkyds (a type of polymer) as advanced pharmaceutical excipients in preparation for various formulations, particularly topical nanoemulsions. I was working in my master’s research project under the supervision of Prof Michael John Rathbone, Dr Lee Siang Yin, Prof Allan Coombes, and Prof Gan Seng Neon. Throughout my Master’s study, my supervisors provided me with invaluable mentorship, precise advices and enthusiastic encouragements for the research, paving the way for me to complete my Master’s degree.

This project for my Master’s degree is a different research project from the one that I did for my final year project in my undergraduate degree. My undergraduate final year project is related to the natural product and drug discovery research, whereas my Master’s study is related to the synthesis of new biomaterials for various pharmaceutical preparations and applications. However, the undergraduate final year project provided a strong foundation to my Master’s research study. The knowledge and skills I gained by final year research project in the lab have all turned out to be really useful for my Master’s study.

To date, based on the research for my Master’s degree, I have published a number of ISI-cited papers (first author) in several high-impact journals and presented my work in several international conferences [1-5]. I was also awarded with a prestigious research grant in the country, Malaysia Toray Science Foundation Science and Technology Research Grant 2014.

At IMU, I met so many wonderful people (lecturers and friends) who altered my view of the world completely. I can genuinely say my years at IMU were among the happiest in my life. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all the people who have helped me so much during my time at IMU. It was great working with them.
The IMU learning environment and lecturers have helped me to develop many professional skills and prepared me very well for the future. Nonetheless, I admit that I am still learning the ways to be a successful person. In conclusion, I can say that IMU is the perfect place to develop students professionally!

My advice to those who wish to study biomedical science is that a biomedical science degree will definitely give a complementary range of skills that lead to a wide range of employment (eg laboratory technicians, medical science executives and underwriters). However, a higher degree (eg Master or PhD) or another degree (eg medical degree) may be a requirement in other scenarios. Personally, biomedical science is suitable for students who prefer to begin a career in industrial or academic research. For Master’s degree, the selection of topic and the research supervisor are the two most important pieces of the puzzle towards a successful completion of the Master’s project. The Master of Science is suitable for students who prefer to begin a career in research or lecturing.”

Planning for the future, I have created an individual development plan by joining personal fitness training courses (eg Tai Chi & Gym) and skills training courses (eg English courses, neuro-linguistic programming, high-impact presentation skill training and leadership skill training). I believe that this individual development plan will benefit me in my life time not only in my career but also in my personal life.

Related links:

Teo SY, Rathbone MJ, Coombes AGA, Lee SY, Gan SN. Development and Validation of a Stability-indicating Isocratic Reverse Phase-liquid Chromatography Assay for Determination of Phenytoin in Bulk and Pharmaceutical Formulations. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2015;7(8):258-263. (ISI-cited journal)

Teo SY, Lee SY, Ong HL, Ong CL, Gan SN, Rathbone MJ, Coombes AGA. Evaluation of Biosourced Alkyd Nanoemulsions as Drug Carriers. Journal of Nanomaterials 2015;2015:1-8. (ISI-cited journal)

Teo SY, Lee SY, Coombes AGA, Rathbone MJ, Gan SN. Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Biocompatible Palm Oil-based Alkyds. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology 2016;118:1193-1201. (ISI-cited journal)

Teo SY, Yew MY, Lee SY, Rathbone MJ, Gan SN, Coombes AGA. In vitro Evaluation of novel Phenytoin-loaded Alkyd Nanoemulsions Designed for Application in Topical Wound Healing. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2017;106(1):377-384. (ISI-cited journal)

Teo SY, Lee SY, Rathbone MJ, Gan SN. Polymeric Materials as Platforms for Topical Drug Delivery: A Review. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2017;9(1):14-20. (ISI-cited review paper)

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