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Valuable Insight Working in World-class Laboratories with Reputable Medical Researchers

11 Jan 2019

Four IMU final year pharmacy students, Yinghan Chan, Sin Wi Ng, David Ong Cherk Yong and Sanggetha Raja Saker were given the opportunity to be involved in collaborative research projects with two top-tier universities based at New South Wales, Australia: The University of Newcastle (UoN)/Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the Graduate School of Health, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Their research projects in Australia were focused on assessing the potentials of celastrol and quercetin loaded liquid crystalline nanoparticles in the treatment of asthma. The collaborative research team include Dr Jithendra Panneerselvam (IMU), Dr Farrukh Zeeshan (IMU), Dr Dinesh Kumar Chellappan (IMU), Dr Thiagarajan Madheswaran (IMU), Prof Philip Michael Hansbro (UoN/HMRI), Dr Kamal Dua (UoN/HMRI, UTS) and Dr Alan Hsu (UoN/HMRI).

The research projects had provided a valuable insight to our pharmacy students as they are able to work in world-class laboratories with reputable medical researchers, which exposes them to the working setting of the pharmaceutical research field, helping them to discover their interest in this field. Moreover, students were able to enhance their knowledge and gain appropriate laboratory and clinical skills required in drug discovery and development for the benefit of the society.

The students shared their research experience in HMRI:
“Our study in HMRI was to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of our formulations that were prepared in IMU. We had the opportunity to observe cell culture, RNA extraction and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). However, we were faced with many shortcomings on getting our result. There were many trial and error as we did not manage to perform any of the preliminary test which wasn’t included in the experimental design due to time and budget limitation. We had to spend most of the time finding the right treatment dose and repeat the same process as there was significant amount of cell death in our study. The data we gathered did not meet our expectations. However, with the help of Dr Alan, we managed to pull through and got our results. His guidance, along with proper planning and execution of the project had helped us a lot, ensuring every test runs smoothly and getting our desired result. Without him, we may have obtained a negative result or no result at all.” “It was a great pleasure working at HMRI. The laboratory is well-equipped with high-end facilities and advanced machines, as well as well-organised bench space, therefore we were able to perform our research works effectively and productively in a comfortable environment. We are also fortunate to have Dr Alan to guide us through the project and imparting us with his knowledge on cell culture and molecular biology. This wonderful learning experience had definitely benefited us and had helped in shaping us into becoming better researchers through the skills and knowledge gained, if we chose the field of research as our career in the future.”

Besides, the students also had a chance to visit the Graduate School of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). At UTS, the students had the chance to visit the laboratories and were introduced to the facilities by shadowing researchers during their experiments. The students had also written several review articles under the guidance of Dr Kamal, in which one of the articles: ‘Molecular Modulators of Celastrol as the Keystones of its Diverse Pharmacological Activities’, has already been published in the Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy journal.

“Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Australia. This eye-opening experience had widened our knowledge and provided us the true experience of a research environment. Apart from that, it also taught us a valuable life lesson whereby we should learn how to embrace our mistakes and learn from it. Mistakes offer us the opportunity to explore the area where perhaps we are lacking, require additional knowledge or training, or even re-examine our approach. We would like to extend our greatest appreciation to our collaborative supervisors in HMRI and UTS for their guidance and support throughout our journey in Australia. It would be a great honour to be able to work again with them in the future. Besides, we are also thankful to all the IMU supervisors who made this happen.”

The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)
HMRI is a renowned research institute that aims to deliver a patient-focused translational research for better health solutions. HMRI focuses on start-up studies and promotes flow information and innovation between scientists, clinicians and public health professionals.
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
UTS is a dynamic and innovative university located in central Sydney. UTS had been named as the top young university in Australia in the Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings for four consecutive years, with a global ranking of 16 for the year of 2018.

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