4 October 2016 – As one of its initiatives to prepare work-ready graduates as well as to bridge the gap between industry and academia, IMU final year Medical Biotechnology (MB) students were given the opportunity to participate and be involved in a discussion forum with biotechnology industry experts. This is an annual event embedded in the MB curriculum under its Communication Skills and Etiquette module. Held at the IMU campus in Bukit Jalil, the students attended the forum which had three professional speakers, who are also key players in the Malaysian biotechnology industry. The three speakers were Jay Padasian, Viva Chan as well as Dr Suba Dharshanan. Jay Padaisian, who is the Senior Vice-President (Healthcare), Business Development and Investment Division, Malaysia Bioeconomy Development Corporation Sdn Bhd, shared with the audience the highlights of the current trends of biotechnology. Coming from a Pharmacy background, he followed his interests in the world of biotechnology and eventually built a solid career on the foundation of passion and professionalism. In his talk, Jay showed statistics in Malaysia, as a developing country, on biotechnological research and patents, and how a gradual increase of Malaysia’s involvement in global research standings has allowed products produced by Malaysian-based companies to be globally acknowledged.
Reflecting on the talk by Jay, one of the MB faculty, Dr Kiruthiga Perumal Vijayaraman, stated that ‘This forum was an eye opener not only for MB students, but also for MB lecturers. We get to know more about the expectations of the industry as well as the most recent development in the biotechnology industries in Malaysia and globally. As a lecturer, we always try our best to deliver knowledge and train our students to equip them with research skills, interpersonal skills and core values. However, we acknowledge that as academicians, we have our own limitations and this gap could be bridged through such a platform with industries’.
Following the talk by Jay was a talk by Viva Chan, who is the General Manager of Thermo Fisher Scientific Malaysia. He shared with the students Thermo Fischer’s vision and mission in the field of serving science. Being a part of not only a global but also leading company in this field, he emphasised on the importance of team work as this is the only way to ensure that the production, sales, and other aspects of the business can run smoothly. The talk by Viva opened up the students’ mindset and further appreciated the great impact brought about by servicing industries to the healthcare system such as in transplantation as well as diagnosis of various diseases. “I grasped how big the scope of a global company such as Thermo Fischer covers and seeing the various examples showed by Jay of the various companies available gives me a fresh perspective on what I want or perhaps might do in the future. We have less than a year to complete our studies, so it was just refreshing how we are reminded that as tough as it might be to find a job upon graduation later on, it is not impossible,” commented Sandhya A/P Baskaran, on the points presented by Jay Padasian and Viva Chan. Last but not least was the interactive session with Dr Suba Dharshanan, the Assistant Manager of Protein Science Department (R&D) at Inno Biologics Sdn Bhd. Dr Dharshanan gave his thoughts and shared his experiences at the last part of the forum. His cheerful and playful demeanor just lit up the room as he told us about his research expertise and how things might not go your way in the real world out there, but when you are taught well and have a positive and curious mindset, anything is possible, given time, patience, and a whole dollop of reading and understanding.
Gan Pei Hong, one of the students commented, “I think that the forum with industry experts was very useful as it keeps us updated on what are biotechnology related job opportunities available out there. I really like the way Dr Dharshanan delivered his talk. He shared his story and his experiences in this field which I think was very useful for us. Besides that, he also cleared most of my doubts on how to plan my career pathway after we have completed our degree.”
All in all, students came out from the discussion forum more motivated than before.
This article is written by: Andrew Octavian (MB student) and Anna Ling (MB lecturer)