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Valuable Internship Experience in Taiwan for IMU Medical Biotechnology Student

02 May 2019

As a final year student of IMU’s Medical Biotechnology (MB) programme, I was given the opportunity to complete a 3-month industrial training. That was when I began to panic as I literally had no idea where should I go and what should I do. A lot of questions consistently popped up in my mind. With the support of my seniors, lecturers and family, I made my final decision and chose Academia Sinica in Taiwan to do my internship. Fortunately, I was accepted by Dr Chern, Yijuang as an attachment student in her research laboratory under the Neuroscience Department in the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), Academia Sinica. Since young, I have always been interested in neurological related topics. Very often, I would come across the term neurodegenerative diseases in the news. However, I did not have the opportunity to gather in-depth knowledge about it. Through my degree programme and journal reading, I realised that all neurodegenerative diseases are getting prevalent as the aging population is increasing worldwide and these illnesses are challenging as they cannot be cured or slowed significantly.

Internship Experience in Taiwan
It was a wonderful internship experience in Taiwan. Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), Academia Sinica is a well-managed research centre as it is highly systematic and furnished with advanced laboratory equipment. I felt honoured to learn in such an environment, as it was an eye-opening experience. From this attachment programme, it allowed me to acquire a lot of new laboratory skills such as handling primary culture, DNA amplification, digestion, ligation and purification, lentivirus packaging, transfection, transduction, Western blotting, operating confocal microscope and various kinds of staining including immunocytochemistry (ICC) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining, The tasks that I performed during my internship period allowed me to relate and apply what I have learnt in MB programme to a real life working environment. Not forgetting one of my most memorable experiences – I had the opportunity to handle primary culture, which was one of the most sophisticated technique to me. It was a challenging process as I literally had no experience in handling animal work. I was afraid of looking at mice and felt squeamish when I have to cut their brain when they are still alive. Without having any prior experience, I pushed myself in learning and tried to overcome my fear in handling primary culture. From being afraid to even carry the mice, I felt I have gained more courage and confidence to handle them. A 3-month internship training for an IMU Medical Biotechnology student at the Neuroscience Department in the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), Academia Sinica. In addition, I have been facing some problems in performing Western blot and using confocal microscope to capture high resolution images when I first started. However, I did not regard them as failures but I treated them as part of the learning experiences which I should go through as I strongly believe that “practice makes perfect”. By continuously familiarising myself with various lab skills and techniques, I found that my performance in handling different equipment had improved. Moreover, I also tried to figure out the possible causes for the errors and tried to troubleshoot them accordingly. In a nutshell, I appreciate this once in a life time opportunity to have my internship overseas, which enlightened and enriched my life experience and also allowed me to make friends from Taiwan. Having an internship abroad had prompted me to step out of my conform zone and be able to adapt myself quickly to a new lifestyle in a foreign country.

Most importantly, I would like to thank my supervisor, senior and other lab members for giving me this opportunity to be involved in their research projects. They gave me full confidence in my laboratory skills and trusted my results, greatly boosting my confidence in handling the experiment independently. I could not have successfully completed my internship without the continuous guidance and support from my senior who gave me this precious opportunity to learn and made my attachment journey so interesting. He gave me not only guidance on the research, but also advises me on my future endeavours and I am truly grateful for that.

I am also very grateful that the IMU Medical Biotechnology Programme had prepared me well to embrace any challenges during my internship period. This programme has given me solid fundamental knowledge in a wide field and technical skills that are required for my research. The various up-to date modules such as Cell and Molecular Biology, Cell and Tissue Culture Techniques, Biopharming and Bioinformatics in this programme had strengthened my foundation knowledge. Moreover, the intensive schedule of  the MB programme in IMU had trained me in proper time management, to stay focused and handle things more effectively despite juggling with a packed timetable and heavy workload.

All these invaluable experiences had eventually helped me to be a person who is more adaptable to changes in my future career and life. Written by: Er Yan Hong (MB1/15) Photos credits: Er Yan Hong (MB1/15)

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