Student surprises Malaysia’s leading medical experts
Presenting your research to a group of subject matter experts in a competition is the kind of recognition most professionals aspire to do. This may seem like a daunting task for a student but not for Gerald Tan, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed)’s fourth year medical student, who did just that during his summer holiday.
Judges were surprised at the National Clinical Research Poster Competition finals. Out of hundreds of entries from fully qualified doctors and specialists, they had narrowed down to a shortlist of just five finalists. It was not until the five came to present their entries did the judges realise that, among the experts, they had shortlisted amedical student, Gerald Tan.
Malaysia’s Director General of Health, Datuk Noor Hisham Abdullah, officiated the National Cancer Institute Research Meeting in Putrajaya on 30th August 2016. It was in the morning of this meeting that Gerald found himself presenting his work – Do routine serum blood tests predict clinical outcomes in osteosarcoma patients?– to the judges and crowd, a competition the judges described as of high quality and extremely close.
Gerald had already exceeded expectations by being the only student to reach the Competition finals. However, that was not the limit of his success. A monumental feat was during the afternoon’s official prize giving ceremony when Gerald’s name was called out as the first runner up.
“It was a surreal experience to be presenting my work to a crowd of experts, I have to admit I was slightly nervous when I realised that I was competing against people who had spent years in medical research! My training at NUMed enabled me to present my research well but being named first runner up was beyond my wildest dreams!” Gerald commented.
The inspiration for Gerald’s poster first occurred while he was undertaking a research project in the UK in 2015. Gerald had been selected from a number of students at Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia to spend the summer at Newcastle University, the parent university in the UK. He settled in quickly as he discovered that the only thing separating the two campuses was geographical distance.
Since its establishment in 2009, NUMed has offered its students the opportunity to undertake a summer research project in the UK. The similarities of Newcastle UK and NUMed, from the design of the campus to the style of teaching, help the students adapt quickly to life in the UK, allowing the students to maximise their experience.
Utilizing the research facilities at Newcastle UK, Gerald embarked on his eight week research project. Sharing his time between the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle UK and the North of England Bone & Soft Tissue Tumour Service at Freeman Hospital, he was under the supervision of orthopaedic cancer surgeon Mr. Craig Gerrand. Freeman Hospital is one of the only five centres commissioned in England for the treatment of bone cancer, affording Gerald the opportunity to collect significant and unique data.
“I dedicate this achievement to my supervisor Mr Craig Gerrand, whom without his guidance, this would not have been possible. I’d also like to thank NUMed for giving me the chance, in the UK and Malaysia, to develop my research experience and skills, I am truly grateful to the University,” Gerald stated.
Dean of Research at NUMed, Dr Michaela Goodson, said: “We are immensely proud of Gerald’s work. For a NUMed student’s research to be successfully competing against the work of people who have spent their life in the medical field is a special moment for the university. It is successes like these that have a knock on effect and make more students want be involved in research. As a result we are planning to increase the research opportunities we offer here and overseas.”
Ranked among the top in the world for medical research, Newcastle is developing its capabilities at NUMed further. A dedicated research laboratory is being opened on the campus which will allow students and faculty to undertake laboratory-based research projects, paving the way for more success stories like Gerald’s.
Newcastle University UK, has established an international branch campus in Johor, Malaysia to provide its undergraduate degrees in Medicine (MB BS) and the Biomedical Sciences (BSc). Both programmes offer opportunities for periods of study in the UK. A one year Foundation Certificate in Biological and Biomedical Sciences is also available, the successful completion of which will lead to progression to the MB BS or BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences programme. All programmes of study are equivalent to those of Newcastle’s UK-based provision, and lead to the award of the same degrees. By choosing to study at NUMed Malaysia, students will obtain a reputable UK qualification, from an internationally recognized university, at a cost significantly less than that of studying in the UK.
published on: 3 November 2016