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How the IMU Pharmaceutical Chemistry Programme Help Prepare Me for PhD

24 Sep 2021

IMU Pharmaceutical Chemistry alumnus,  Wong Zheng Wei,  is currently pursuing his PhD at University of Nottingham 

As I found myself immersing into academic life during my postgraduate studies, I cannot help but look back at my undergraduate days at the International Medical University (IMU) and how it essentially became the foundation of my research path.

I pursued a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry when I was at IMU. Personally, I felt that the course structure truly encouraged versatility with the diverse range of modules, and this gave us the opportunity to explore the various sectors of healthcare.

What I Learnt while Studying Pharmacuetical Chemistry at IMU
Nurturing My Basic Research Skills From my perspective as an early career researcher, I found that the hands-on lab practical sessions, presentations, report writing, and diversified workshops, helped nurture my basic research skills. I did not understand the need for attention, preparedness, and punctuality during practical sessions, but I now know that these were crucial in establishing a positive etiquette.
Improving Written Communication Skills and Presentation Skills Throughout the course, I had done multiple presentations, but I could not see the purpose of presenting my work to the same group of people. However, I realised that these were a training platform for me to convey my research findings to a generic audience. I could recall how daunting and tedious it was to write a lengthy report at the end of every practical session, but it paid off at the end and improved my written communication skills.
Developed Critical Thinking and Accurate Appraisal of Information Having to do some reading prior to the problem-based learning workshop seemed redundant at that point in time, but it developed a habit of thinking critically and appraising accurately the information collected. That said, these lessons and soft skills turned out to be a great foundation for my research career and I did not regret a single moment of it.
Opportunities for Career and Networking Opportunities Besides that, my time at IMU was also laden with career and networking opportunities, from fellow colleagues to lecturers and mentors at IMU. During my final year, I was fortunate enough to work alongside Dr Punniyakoti and Dr Srinivasan to publish two review articles, which undoubtedly helped boost my research portfolio.

Likewise, I managed to secure an industrial attachment at the prestigious Cancer Research Malaysia with the help of Dr Keng Pei Sin. The 3-month experience not only broadened my scope of research into the field of molecular biology and oncology, but also cemented my resolve to venture into research. These unforgettable moments have taught me to appreciate every single encounter I have.

Soon after my graduation, I have decided to take up a PhD studentship at University of Nottingham with my newfound confidence of my research capabilities.

My research now focuses on the development of a hybrid nanoscale biosensor for molecular cancer markers.

Throughout my PhD, I have had many challenging situations, as well as accomplishments. Prior to this pandemic, I have participated in multiple events and conferences, as well as a research attachment at Peking University, Beijing.

All of these are the results of the soft skills and networks that I have established since my time at IMU. That said, I will forever be grateful to the Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme, from all aspects – the professional lecturers, course structure, connections, etc. – that helped kick-start my research journey!

By Wong Zheng Wei, PC113

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