Conducting research during undergraduate studies is part of an undergraduate student’s learning experience. Through this research experience, students learn to write proposals, design experiments, analyse results, and presentation skills. Students are then encouraged to present their results either at a conference or for publication. Furthermore, this provides an excellent opportunity to explore and learn as much as possible in an area of student interest. Such a learning experience is is part of the IMU Pharmacy programme curriculum, where students are required to conduct research for a whole semester during their Semester 7. These students are allowed to choose the project of their interest. The projects can be done either at IMU or industry locally or abroad. To stmulate the real world experience, these students are asked to defend their research proposals in the IMU Joint Committee. IMU funds the Pharmacy students’ research upon approval from the Committee. Our undergraduate pharmacy students share their own experiences in research.
While my experiences as a BPharm (Hons) undergraduate in IMU have been diverse, research has unquestionably been the most important and rewarding component of my BPharm (Hons) degree programme. Committing myself to the world of scientific research in Semester 7 has inculcated an investigative mindset and a passion for the scientific process as well as appreciation for the results of pharmaceutical research.
Research has proven to be a fantastic supplement to my undergraduate coursework, allowing me to strengthen my conceptual understanding of the material taught in my pharmaceutics classes. Participating in research and the consequent interactions with my peers and supervisors provided me with a toolbox of hard and soft skills that has paid dividends in my academic and professional relationships.
It was a challenging yet memorable experience upon reminiscing my journey throughout Semester 7, when I had conducted a cross-sectional study as my research project. Being the pioneer of private pharmacy education provider, International Medical University (IMU) has provided an excellent platform for us to complete our research project.
From the presentation of the research proposal and the actual conduct of research to the final presentation of our research findings and the publication of our research work, various resources including online databases, reference books, and SPSS statistics software were available to aid us in conducting the research project.
Furthermore, I am blessed to receive great support and guidance from experienced supervisors along the journey. Upon the completion of the research study, I have acquired strong interpersonal skills, time management, and critical-thinking skills. This invaluable knowledge and experiences prepared me well in pursuing my career as a pharmacist.
During Semester 7, I had the opportunity to take part in a collaborative research project, allowing me to carry out my research in IMU and Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia. It was good exposure for me and I have learned so much from both places. Looking back, my research experience was truly one of the best and most fruitful experiences in my BPharm (Hons) journey.
I am grateful to have my IMU BPharm (Hons) Semester 7 research conducted full-time in collaboration with Queen’s University in Belfast, UK. Our research involved the “Development and Characterisation of Sustained Release Timolol Maleate Ocular Implant-based on Biodegradable poly (ε -caprolactone) (PCL) Polymer” for the treatment of glaucoma.
Learning to work alongside a research team is part of the experience. It allowed me to explore more about my research area or methodology of interest and gained new skills. At the same time, I had the opportunity to apply the knowledge that I gained in Semester 5 Pharmaceutics IV module, on the dosage form drug release mechanisms, the kinetics of release controlled, and sustained release systems. I appreciate the overall strategy of scientific work, just like how this research topic had identified the problem of current needs in helping glaucoma patients. Planning, interpreting, troubleshooting, and using the result to help assess the current state of the problem and going on to the next bit of work to solve it.
I had a great hand-on learning experience in research, thanks to the exposure given to us in the BPharm (Hons) research module. I’ve learned that perseverance and dedication are essential in research besides being equipped with research skills. This is because research doesn’t guarantee success upon first trial. With the guidance of my lecturer, I can persevere throughout the learning and improvising process from the failed research attempts.
Throughout my four years in IMU, research is considered as the most rewarding component of my undergraduate study. I was grateful to be able to participate in the research project that focused on my favorite topic – nanoparticle. This project served as a platform for me to apply whatever I had acquired in the class. During the lecture, I learned about the basic working principles of the instruments.
In the lab, I had the chance to operate the machines personally while being guided by the lab personnel. It was a brand-new learning experience as I get to master skills that cannot be taught by the lecturer without a proper demonstration. On the other hand, I felt that research had played a crucial role in strengthening my conceptual understanding of the knowledge gained in the class. For instance, I was able to get a full picture of how the parameters influence each other during the manufacture of nanoparticles by utilising advanced scientific software. This four-month period offered me a great learning opportunity. As I learned more, I started to develop confidence in my work, not just at the lab bench, but also in my study.
My research semester was one of the semesters that I loved the most. I was given a wonderful opportunity to study pancreatic cancer. This semester was fun in the sense that I had the opportunity to observe, understand the growth of cancer cells, and was able to use the different equipment in the laboratory. I also learned that we must be mindful of our every action throughout the process, as even a minor mistake would influence the ultimate result.
Although I had to grapple with my thesis and laboratory work schedule, it was an unforgettable semester for me as research allows me to find the answers to the hypotheses. If you are a curious person and enjoy hands-on experiences, you will enjoy this semester.