5-8 October 2014 – International Medical University (IMU) Medical Biotechnology lecturer, Dr Kok Yih Yih, had the opportunity to present her research project at The International Conference on Contaminated Land, Ecological Assessment and Remediation (CLEAR 2014) in October this year. Organised by Korea Biochar Research Center, Department of Biological Environment and Kangwon National University, the Conference was held in Chuncheon, South Korea. It was attended by researchers, consultants and policy makers. At this conference, Dr Kok presented an environmental biotechnology research entitled ‘Toxic Effects of Functionalised Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes on Two Marine Microalgae’, sharing her research findings with other renowned researchers from Korea, China, Singapore, Germany, Taiwan and India. This project was carried out by a student whom Dr Kok has supervised, Andrina Ng Yann Yi. Andrina spent a year after 2.5 years in the IMU medical programme to complete the IMU Bachelor of Medical Sciences (Hons) before transferring in 2015 to one of IMU’s partner medical school, Australian National University, to complete her medical degree.
“I am honoured to be granted the opportunity to give an oral presentation in this Conference, which emphasises in nanomaterials research. During this conference, exchange of research ideas were carried out and I was excited as I could initiate collaboration with potential researchers that may bring biotechnological research in IMU to the next level. After establishing this set of preliminary data, I hope I can further elucidate the ecotoxicity and mechanism of nanomaterials to microalgae and the effect of other physiochemical factors on toxicity of nanomaterials on microalgae”.
Nanotechnology is one of the fastest growing industries and release of nanomaterials to the environment has been of concern due to their possible negative effects towards the biota and human health. Growth of microalgae is greatly affected by nanomaterial wastes, leading to disruption of the ecosystem as microalgae serves as primary producers of food web and oxygen cycle. After joining IMU as a Faculty Member five years ago, Dr Kok started to explore biotechnological research with the influence and encouragement of the University’s Vice-President of Research, Prof Mak Joon Wah and Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies, Prof Chu Wan Loy. Her strong interest and capabilities in research were proven when she received the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) awarded by Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) for the project ‘Allergenic Potential of Airborne Algae Isolated from Malaysia’. In this project, her team would be to studying the allergenic potential of air-borne algae isolated from Malaysia using animal model where the immunological response of mice towards algae will be explored. In addition, Dr Kok is also involved actively in the research on assessment of the combined effects of nutrient enrichment and pesticide toxicity on various biomarkers in microalgae as well as researching for biomarkers of polar and lower latitudes microbes in relation to heavy metal stress under the Flagship programme funded by Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).