5 November 2015 – 5 students from the International Medical University (IMU) Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme had the opportunity to attend an international conference, OFIC 2014 (Oils and Fats International Congress 2014) at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The five students, Puvaneswari Marappan, Karen Voong, Hovah Marie Emilie Leiticia, Sasitaran Munuganan and Ong Hui Sheng relates their experience at the conference.
“OFI, oils and fats international, established in 1985, has ever since been responsible of relaying information about the oils and fats industry. In the past years, OFI in association with many global organizations, has planned successful events, the latest being the one we attended, OFIC 2014 themed Global Oils and Fats; Addressing Major Challenges. Despite the prestige of the event, IMU was fortunate to be allocated 10 seats by the President of MOSTA, the main organiser of the event, Academician Prof Tan Sri Datuk Dr Augustine S H Ong. When first approached by our Oleochemistry module coordinator, Dr Lee Choy Sin about OFIC during our semester break, we instantly showed interest, hoping to acquire a totally different experience. Little did we know on what mind-opening and insightful journey we were setting upon. We went to KL Convention Centre on 5 November 2014, feeling honoured and small to be amongst some of the esteemed scientists in this field from all over the world. However, all apprehension was dissolved when we were warmly welcomed by MR Chandran, the chairperson of the event who showed genuine interest in our background, university and expectations from this conference. He was kind enough to point out how the oil and fats industry could go hand in hand with the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, he happily introduced us as young scientists to his close circle of colleagues, one of whom is the Chief Executive Officer of American Oil Chemists’ Society, Dr Patrick Donnelly and chairman of Indonesian Palm Oil Board, Dr Derom Bangun. For the next two days, we sat through a plethora of plenary talks which went well above our expectations and knowledge. Astonished and intrigued: that was how we felt as we realized that there is so much more to learn and how limited our knowledge about the field was. Indeed, all the speakers managed to captivate the audience but we were truly inspired by some, mostly those that presented on their research achievements. Two particularly memorable lectures were Megasonics in palm oil milling-A vision to reality and the Bad and Good Vitamin E respectively. The speakers addressed the challenges their research team went through before attaining success. Being enthusiastic about research, we were greatly encouraged to know that with enough hard work and optimism, every vision can be materialised. We were quite amazed to see the number of research projects carried out in the oils and fats industry in the past year at the Conference’s poster exhibition. Definitely, we had no idea how vast the field is and how we, as pharmaceutical chemists, can make a contribution. We also felt pride as we stood fascinated in front of posters displaying research done by none other than our own IMU lecturers. They surely set out a strong path for us undergraduate students to follow. What we took home? Certainly more than we could have ever imagined. Of course, we have a lot of tangible souvenirs from the event like the programme booklet and the newly published book by MOSTA, Palm Fruit Oil-excellence Through Innovation, Leadership and Industrialization that was given as a token. But what will remain with us forever is the undeniable fact that we have been greatly inspired-inspired to set newer, higher goals and work harder to achieve them.”