13 Jun 2022 Life is a Journey and not a Destination

My name is Firdaus Hariri and I am an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon currently practising at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) and Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya. My academic and career pathway took me through a 14-year journey that comprises foundation years, Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) and Master Degree in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (MDS in OMFS) as well as various clinical attachments abroad.

Throughout the years in oral and maxillofacial field, I have developed a special interest in paediatric craniofacial disorder and surgical field, a subspecialised area focusing in children born with structural defects involving the skull, face and jaw regions. This field involves a team with multidisciplinary clinical expertise that includes maxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery, otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology, paediatrics respiratory, genetics, anaesthesiology, paediatric dentistry and orthodontics, among others.

Why Molecular Medicine?
As the team coordinator of the only comprehensive craniofacial clinical-research multidisciplinary team in Malaysia, there was a moment when I started to ask myself, “How can we improve these children’s development not just from the surgical perspective? There must be other ways we can do to help these children so they can grow up like the other normal children.”

All these questions inspire me to seek new knowledge to find an in-depth answer in order for my team to further improve our management and provide a holistic evidence-based approach. At the same time, we would be strengthening our craniofacial research field which focuses on the development of medical treatment through the fundamentals of cell and genome.

I decided to do so at the International Medical University (IMU) and had a wonderful time doing the Master of Science (MSc) in Molecular Medicine there. The flexibility of the programme allows me to plan for my weekly routine as a surgeon and an academician while at the same time conduct research to fulfil the programme requirement under a very experienced main supervisor, Dr Liew Yun Khoon.

Research on Advanced Metagenomic Field
My research was on advanced metagenomic field which looks into the biodiversity of gut microbiome in children with and without syndromic craniosynostosis. I had the opportunity to work with 2 other co-supervisors who are both experts in the field, Dr Chong Chun Wie from Monash University and A/Prof Dr Cindy Teh Shuan Ju from Universiti Malaya. It is hoped that the results from this study can be further explored and become the stepping stone to further improve our patient’s dietary well-being and their behavioural development.

My journey in pursuing my MSc in Molecular Medicine in IMU would not be possible without the dedicated mentorship and commitment from my supervisors.

The postgraduate degree is a very structured programme that encompasses important aspects that have provided me with comprehensive exposure in fundamental science as well as an excellent support system from IMU. Indeed, life is a journey and IMU has been one great chapter in my life story.

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