Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia

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From research to remedy - how biomedical science has shaped medicine

What do the first successful heart transplant, the first synthetic gene, the artificial hip replacement, and the vitamin supplement have in common? They are all life-changing medical breakthroughs that have been discovered and developed as a result of biomedical science.


It is thanks to biomedical science that mysteries of the human body are solved and cures to human disease are discovered. It is the backbone for medical advancement, but sometimes, despite its importance, our understanding of the true significance of biomedical science is limited.


Biomedical science actually has a long and fascinating history. Hundreds of years ago, in 1538 Andreas Vesalius was one of the first to take a bold but game-changing step to dissect a human body. He made revolutionary discoveries about human anatomy, blood and the nervous system. Later, in 1628, William Harvey made the then radical discovery that blood circulates through the body and identified the heart as the organ responsible for pumping the blood.


It is also thanks to biomedical science that advancements we take for granted today were made. In the 1840s scientists discovered that chemicals can be used as anaesthetics, making it possible to perform surgery without pain. In 1895 x-rays were invented. In 1920 Penicillin was discovered.


There is also a limited understanding of the role that universities have played in this progress. In many cases they have had a significant part in conducting research that has led to pioneering discoveries. To name just a few, it was at the University of California in 1990 where the technique for test tube fertilisation was developed. At UCLA in 1975, the first durable artificial hip was developed. In 1977 biomedical scientists managed to isolate the gene for insulin, leading to the mass production of genetically engineered insulin to treat diabetes.


Understanding health through medical research has been a key endeavour of Newcastle University since 1834. Its world renowned biomedical research strengths have revolutionised the treatment of disease and health care. In fact it is the first institution in the UK to be given permission to pursue stem-cell research.


In the last year alone, researchers at the University have made several significant breakthroughs. In March 2014 they discovered that that people born with a rare abnormality of their chromosomes have a 2,700-fold increased risk of developing a rare form of childhood cancer, called acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Scientists say the finding could result in better treatment for other types of cancer, as the abnormalities are more common in some types of the illness


In the same month another group of biomedical scientists made a unique discovery that could help in the fight against obesity.  They identified the seaweeds which are most effective at preventing people from absorbing fat. Their potential as a food supplement which prevents the absorption of fat is now being investigated.


More recently scientists were able to restore the ability to grasp with a paralysed hand using spinal cord stimulation for the first time. The discovery opens up the possibility of new treatments within the next few years which could help stroke victims or those with spinal cord injuries regain some movement in their arms and hands.


Professor Reg Jordan, CEO and Provost at Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia said: “Modern medicine is constantly evolving and the role of biomedical science is crucial. It is more exciting than ever to be in Biomedical Science in Asia because it is on track to become the biggest pharmaceutical market in the world, with a number of countries in the region evolving as international powerhouses.”


This is just one of the reasons that Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) introduced its Biomedical Sciences (BSc) programme at its state-of-the-art campus in Nusajaya, Johor. The course mirrors the highly successful programme offered at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, UK, which confers all the degrees. In fact it is even split into two parts, the first comprising two academic years at the NUMed campus, and the second comprising a year-long intensive research project in Newcastle University Medical School in the UK. This allows students real exposure to the discoveries made in the science behind modern medicine and the exciting prospect to shape the future of it in Asia.


Applications are now open for the September 2015 intakes. To apply, please visit:


About NUMed

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), and opportunities for postgraduate study. The 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. The undergraduate Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MB BS) degrees were launched in 2009 and BSc degrees in the Biomedical Sciences were launched in 2013. Both programmes offer opportunities for periods of study in the UK.

published on: 13 August 2015