The passion in cancer cell biology research has led Dr Tan Boon Shing, an IMU PhD graduate to currently work as a postdoctoral researcher in Academia Sinica, Taiwan. He shares with us his journey from undergraduate studies to where he is now. Dr Tan obtained his Diploma in Chemistry and Biology from Tunku Abdul Rahman College and Advanced Diploma in Science cum Bachelor in Science Degree from Campbell University. Subsequently, he obtained his Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Chemistry and Biology from the Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom. Upon graduation from his bachelor degree, he returned to Malaysia.
Being attracted by the many future job prospects of postgraduate studies, Dr Tan continued to pursue his full-time Master of Science in Medical and Health Sciences (By Research) at the International Medical University (IMU). He developed his interest in cancer cell biology research which prompted him to further pursue his full-time studies in the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Medical and Health Sciences (By Research) in his alma mater, IMU. Dr Tan was doing his Master and PhD under the supervision of Prof Leong Chee Onn, Deputy Director of the Institute for Research, Development, and Innovation (IRDI), IMU.
Dr Tan has been working on uncovering the oncogenic role of mutant p53 in human breast cancer cells. p53 is a tumour suppressor gene with its activity stopping the formation of cancer cells. However, a mutant p53 will have its original gene structure altered and rendering to its oncogenic properties causing the formation of cancer cells. Dr Tan is particularly interested in determining the precise molecular mechanism of mutant p53 which ultimately will lead to the uncovering of new cancer-related pathways. Such new pathways are good platforms to provide attractive candidate prognostic markers and new therapeutic agents for refractory breast cancer which is breast cancer that does not respond to treatment. Dr Tan is now working as a postdoctoral researcher in Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Academia Sinica is a research institution located in Taipei, Taiwan involving in research activities in a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from mathematical and physical sciences, to life sciences, and to humanities and social sciences. As an educational institution, it provides PhD training and scholarship through its English-language Taiwan International Graduate Program in biology, agriculture, chemistry, physics, informatics, and earth and environmental sciences. Dr Tan first got to know this institution and his current superior while attending a ceremony to receive the Tien Te Lee Biomedical Foundation – Excellent Scientific Paper Award 2013 in Taiwan.
Upon reflecting on his learning experiences in IMU, Dr Tan remarked that the practice of self-directed learning has trained him tremendously to be an independent researcher in his current workplace. Dr Tan highlighted that staying focused on a plan and getting well organised is important to strike a balance between studies and family. His memorable time while at IMU was all the moments working together with Prof Leong throughout his postgraduate studies. For future plans, Dr Tan expressed his wish to continue his work in the research field.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This quote by Mark Twain was the advice offered by Dr Tan for future students. Indeed, it was truly his passion and enthusiasm in breast cancer research that led him onto the path of success. In conclusion, Dr Tan felt that the Postgraduate programme (By Research) at IMU is a good platform for graduates to embark on a new journey in research.