2 Aug 2021 A Medical Biotechnology Graduate’s Journey into Nanoparticle and Drug Metabolism Research

Chong Ce Lynn graduated from International Medical University (IMU) in 2019, with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Medical Biotechnology. She is currently undertaking her postgraduate study at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia (UNMC), as a full-time PhD student registered under its School of Pharmacy. Here she shares her journey from IMU to UNMC.

I had been passionate about research since high school. Therefore, I decided to enrol in BSc (Hons) in Medical Biotechnology after completing my pre-university. I’ve never regretted it since then, as my undergraduate journey at IMU was wonderful. The curriculum of the Medical Biotechnology (MB) programme provided an outcome-based education, which had equipped me well with not only a broad spectrum of fundamental knowledge, but also taught me many essential practical skills.

In addition, the MB curriculum also focuses on developing various soft skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, and teamwork, which I found very important to overcome all the challenges I have encountered during my postgraduate studies. Besides, I have learned both theory and hands-on experience through the various training workshops during my undergraduate study at IMU.

One of the most memorable workshops was the communication skills workshop, where I learned how to prepare a good cover letter and curriculum vitae as well as how to present ourselves during job and postgraduate enrolment interviews.

All the knowledge and skills that I had learned in IMU had undoubtedly helped me in securing a full scholarship at UNMC to study in a selected postgraduate degree.

My Research Project
My current project focuses on studying the effect of nanoparticles on Cytochrome P450 (CYP) expression and activities. CYP is a superfamily of haemoproteins, many of which are responsible for the metabolism of drugs and other xenobiotics. With the recent remarkable progress of nanotechnology in the biomedical field, one emerging controversial issue is the unpredictable negative impacts of nanoparticles on humans and the environment. Therefore, the aim of my current study is to investigate the effect of nanoparticles on the drug-metabolising CYP.

My interest in CYP research was sparked when I did my undergraduate final year project in IMU to study the effect of CYP polymorphism in CYP-mediated metabolism. I was excited yet nervous at the beginning of my undergraduate final year project, because it was the first-time I was involved in the conduct of a research project, from planning the study design, preparing and presenting the research proposal, carrying out the procedures, collecting results, trouble-shooting to presenting my research findings in both oral presentation and thesis writing.

I also gained brand-new experiences working in a research laboratory, from where I have learned a lot of essential techniques related to biotechnology research, such as cell culturing, ultracentrifugation, spectrophotometry, and sterilization. In addition to that, I have also managed to improve my time management skill during the final year project, since we need to complete the project within the given time frame.

My interest in research grew after completing my final year project. To gain more research experience, I joined the Emerging Infectious Disease (EID), Duke–NUS Medical School, Singapore as an intern for six months. It was during this internship that I realised that a postgraduate degree is a must-have ticket to a successful career as a researcher, and I have decided to pursue postgraduate study after graduation.

How the MCO Affected Me?
Shortly after enrolment in UNMC, our government (in Malaysia) announced the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO1.0). COVID -19 has not only impacted our economy and social life, but it had also affected the postgraduate students who need to carry out research in the laboratory. I was unable to continue my research during this period, however, I have seized this opportunity to do more background research related to my area of study, which I then published as a review paper in BioNanoScience.

As an IMU graduate, I am also well-prepared as a self-directed lifelong learner. While waiting for bench work to resume, I have enrolled and completed a short course in bioinformatics to further improve my knowledge in this field. It would be rather interesting to apply what I had learned in the short course to my current project. Besides, I have also taken this opportunity to attend some online training courses offered by the graduate school of UNMC, to keep myself engaged and stay motivated during lockdown while strengthening my technical skills.

To sum it all up, I am extremely grateful to complete my BSc (Hons) in Medical Biotechnology degree at the IMU, which has a robust curriculum. I truly feel that I am ready for any workplace and well prepared for handling any circumstances.

I would also like to thank all the lecturers and colleagues who have shone a path in my journey this far.

Related article: World-class Research Exposure for IMU Medical Biotechnology Student at DUKE-NUS

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