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Enriching Internship in Thailand for IMU Pharmaceutical Chemistry Students

04 Feb 2020

In the IMU BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme, students are given the opportunity to undertake a three-month industrial training. This is a good opportunity for these students to hone their skills as well as to gain a new set of skills. In 2019,  three students from this programme, Fa’iz Syahir, Lam Ki Yan and Farah Elina took this opportunity to undertake thier industrial training at Prince of Songkhla University (PSU) in Hat Yai, Thailand. These students were placed under the Department of Drug Delivery System Excellence Centre (DDSEC) and were supervised by two amazing, kind and knowledgeable professors, Prof Teerapol Srichana and A/Prof Chitchamai Ovatlarnporn. Each of us were assigned to different projects.

Student Name Research Project
Fa’iz Syahir Faiz was involved in the synthesis, characterisation and recrystallisation of sodium deoxycholate sulfate (SDS). For this research project, one of the secondary bile acids, deoxycholic acid, was converted to an amphiphilic drug carrier, sodium deoxycholate sulfate, via esterification, reduction and sulfation
Lam Ki Yan Ki Yan’s project was on the synthesis and anti-cancer activity of curcumin derivative and chitosan polymer derivatives nanomicelles.  For Ki Yan’s project, nanomicelles was synthesised using curcumin derivative and chitosan polymer derivatives. The prepared nano-micelles were then tested on lung cancer cells.
Farah Elina Farah was working on the synthesis, characterisation and recrystallisation of cholesteryl palmityl carbonate (CPC). Farah’s project involved the use of the drug carrier, cholesteryl palmityl carbonate (CPC), in the esterification process of cholesteryl chloroformate and palmityl alcohol. These changes were confirmed using various spectroscopic methods. The SDS and CPC were crystallised for X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis.

The projects which involved recrystallisation were supervised by Prof Teerapol Srichana and co-supervised by A/Prof Saowanik Saithong whereas Ki Yan’s research project was supervised by A/Prof Chitchamai Ovatlarnporn.

As part of the learning process, the three students were also given opportunities to utilise the various analytical instruments in DDSEC, such as Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), ultraviolet-visible light spectroscopy (UV), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Other than that, they were also taught to make their own capillary thin layer chromatography spotters. It can be prepared by heating an old glass pipette and pulling it when it was hot enough and became pliable. This experience has given the students the opportunity to hone their analytical skills as well as gain a new set of skills that was never taught in lectures.

The students’ stay in Thailand was bound to be full of challenges. The most obvious one was the different culture. They needed to be always heedful of their actions as the norm practice in Thailand may be very different from Malaysia. At the same time, since the students were away from home, some of them experienced homesickness. While conducting the project, certain aspects of the project were also relatively new to them and thus, there were fears of jeopardising the entire research project. However, we were fortunate that the staff at the DDSEC would always be there to lend a helping hand when we had any difficulties in our research projects.

As time passes, the three students grew more comfortable being at the University  as members of the DDSEC were kind, helpful and always invited them to join their activities, making them feel like they are a part of the DDSEC team. They brought them to lunch, dinner and countless tours around Songkhla. All in all, Fa’iz Syahir, Lam Ki Yan and Farah Elina will always feel grateful to be able to conduct their industrial training at Prince of Songkhla University, Thailand. Furthermore, they were able to meet amazing people there and build an unbroken bond with them. The students also acquired tremendous amount of knowledge from them and hope to be able to meet or maybe work with them again. Their advice to juniors, who may want to undertake their industrial training overseas is to get yourself ready and be open to accept new challenges along the way. Do not be afraid because the people will help you and nurture you to be a better person.

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