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Unveiling Boundless Opportunities: IMU School of Pharmacy’s Global Exposure Programme in Japan

20 Jul 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving field of pharmacy, it is essential for students to embrace a mobility programme to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the dynamic landscape. The IMU School of Pharmacy is delighted to implement the Global Exposure programme, supporting Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) (BPharm) students in their pursuit of electives or research experiences abroad. Starting from 2021, this fund partially or fully covers the direct costs associated with Semester 6 electives or Semester 7 research projects conducted overseas.


By engaging in different educational systems and practices, students gain a competitive edge for their future career advancement and employability. Previous IMU BPharm cohorts have successfully carried out elective programme or research projects in various countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Taiwan, Croatia, India, and Indonesia.


One significant aspect that makes the IMU BPharm programme distinctive is a dedicated semester, Semester 7, specifically designed for students to conduct their research projects, whether locally or internationally. This unique feature grants students the opportunity to explore their chosen research topic and make meaningful contributions to the pharmacy field. Experienced lecturers serve as mentors and supervisors, guiding students throughout their research journey. Students chosen to conduct their research at partner universities are jointly supervised by supervisors at partner universities and IMU researchers.


Japan is one of the popular destinations for BPharm students conducting research or elective programme.

BPharm students, Ng Yee Min and Kuan Hui En, conducted their research semester in Tokyo University of Science (TUS), under the guidance of esteemed researchers, Prof Shin Aoki (TUS), A/Prof Mohd Zulkefeli, and Prof Mallikarjuna (IMU). They worked on a supramolecular chemistry project.

TUS provided an exceptional environment for research, boasting state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge experimental devices. The students had access to various research facilities, including NMR spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, organic synthesis, and animal testing laboratories. The students observed the dedication and hard work of their Japanese counterparts, who were fully engrossed in their research projects.

Weekly seminar sessions, conducted in Japanese, presented a language barrier. Ng Yee Min and Kuan Hui En was able to overcame this hurdle by learning basic Japanese beforehand, allowing them to understand the presentation slides and actively participate in discussions.


Throughout their three-month stay, the students acquired valuable experimental and analytical skills from their Japanese laboratory mates. They applied the theoretical principles learned in previous academic years and persevered through the initial challenges and mistakes encountered during the research project. Yee Min and Hui En also had an extraordinary opportunity attended a talk by Nobel laureate Sir James Fraser Stoddart at the University of Tokyo.


(More on the students’ experience:

BP 116 student, Charmaine Caryn Teo Cher Ern had the opportunity to gain invaluable insights into the Japanese healthcare system through their Elective programme at Hiroshima University, which comprised of 2 weeks of hospital and community pharmacy attachment, and 2 weeks of research exposure.

Charmaine Caryn was given the opportunity to conduct attachment at the Department of Pharmaceutical Services at Hiroshima University Hospital. She gained exposure to all the 7 divisions under this department, including dispensing and compounding, therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM), drug information services (DI), medicine management (clinical pharmacists), clinical trial, department of infection control and general risk manager.

At the community pharmacy, Charmaine Caryn observed the prescription filling process and witnessed the utilisation of advanced equipment such as pharmaceutical refrigerators and automatic pill dispensers. This firsthand exposure provided a deeper understanding of the compounding and dispensing procedures employed in community pharmacy settings. Charmaine Caryn also had the privilege of shadowing a pharmacist involved in home care services for elderly patients. This unique system involved regular visits to patients’ homes to organise medications, monitor their usage, and address any potential side effects.


In addition to hospital and community pharmacy exposure, Charmaine Caryn also had the opportunity to participate in research at the pharmacology laboratory. The focus of the laboratory’s work was on pain mechanisms, predominantly explored through animal studies. Through the involvement in the laboratory, Charmaine Caryn gained practical experience in animal facility procedures, including mouse habitation and intrathecal injections. She also learned essential techniques like immunohistochemistry, which involves the selective identification of components in tissue samples using antibodies. Beyond the professional aspects, Charmaine Caryn also embraced the vibrant Japanese culture and took advantage of her weekends to explore famous landmarks in Hiroshima. The elective programme in Japan provided her a comprehensive learning experience in the healthcare system and pharmacy practice.


(More on Charmaine’s experience:

BP114 students, Branda Tan Wan Yi and Bradon Teo Yu Shen, carried out their Elective programme at Hiroshima University in Japan. The four-week journey provided them with a diverse range of experiences, including industry visits, hospital rotations, laboratory research, and cultural engagements.

In the first two weeks of their elective, Branda and Bradon had the opportunity to visit Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., where they witnessed the production line of Aged Garlic Extract, a widely used health supplement in Japan. They also explored Everlth Co., Ltd., a pharmaceutical distribution center boasting an earthquake-resistant and fully automated warehouse, which significantly enhanced efficiency and minimised errors in order fulfillment.

Branda and Bradon were given the opportunity to gain exposure to various healthcare settings, including private hospitals, public hospitals, and chain pharmacies in Hiroshima city, opened their eyes to the unique pharmacy practices in Japan.


The second half of their elective allowed Branda and Bradon to delve into the research domain at Hiroshima University. Branda joined the Microbiology Laboratory and conducted experiments on antibiotics and resistant bacteria. Meanwhile, Bradon worked in the Pharmacognosy Laboratory, engaging in various biological assays and plant sample screenings. These experiences not only expanded their knowledge but also equipped them with practical skills relevant to their future research endeavors.


In addition to academic pursuits, the students immersed themselves in Japanese culture. They had the opportunity to learn the art of forging Japanese swords from the master, Yoshihiro Kubo, creating paper knives from iron rods. Embracing an invitation from their colleagues in the pharmacognosy laboratory, Branda and Bradon joined Japanese students for karate practice and Japanese archery, experiencing the thrill of these traditional sports. They also attended the Flower Festival along Hewa Street and visited the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park, coinciding with the Golden Week in Japan.


(More on the students’ experience:

The students’ research and elective experience in Japan not only expanded their academic horizons but also provided them with invaluable life lessons and personal growth. Through the global exposure programme, students also fostered personal growth and intercultural understanding. The memories they created, the friendships they formed, and the lessons they learned will undoubtedly shape their professional journeys as aspiring pharmacists.

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