Admissions Blog

Mengge Yu (PhD Entering 2016 Class)

mengge phd

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I graduated from the 7-year programme of Capital Medical University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Medicine (MBBS) and Master of Medicine (MMed) in Clinical Medicine (Paediatrics). Following my internship in Beijing Xuan Wu Hospital, I came to work with my thesis mentor, Prof. Zheng Huyong, on the immune reconstitution after chemotherapy for paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), during a 2-year residency in Beijing Children’s Hospital. While working at the bedside of patients, I recognized the current limitations of medical care and saw the urgent need for a change in therapeutic strategies. I realized that this change could only be achieved through medical research, which is why I decided to pursue a PhD at Duke-NUS Medical School, in order to formally train myself to contribute to change.

How did you come to know about Duke-NUS?

I heard about Duke-NUS from my high-school friends who were studying in Singapore at the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University when we were talking about graduate schools.

Did you consider applying to other PhD programmes? How did you eventually decide on Duke-NUS?

Yes, I did but I chose Duke-NUS because firstly, Singapore is a beautiful and safe country with a mix of cultures. That makes it easier for me to adapt. Secondly, Duke-NUS collaborates closely with hospitals. Many faculty members are or were clinicians and I think knowing what patients need is the first step toward doing meaningful translational research.

Tell us a bit about your research.

I’m working with Dr. Ong Sin Tiong in the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology programme (CSCB). One of our lab’s primary interests is to uncover the mechanism of drug resistance in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and find possible therapeutic targets to prevent disease relapse and treatment failure caused by development of drug resistance. For the past several months I’ve been working on the role of one of the key kinases, the mitogen-activated protein kinase interacting protein kinase (MNK) which regulates the cell’s translation machinery, in the development of drug resistance in AML cells.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I love reading fiction, and I generally just go for the “bestsellers” when I’m book-hunting. I enjoy learning new languages and am also trying to learn to play the guitar in my free time.

Would you share a great experience or opportunity you’ve had at Duke-NUS?

I think getting out of my “comfort zone” of doing clinical work and becoming a researcher in a lab is a great experience in itself. Research is different from clinical practice in every aspect from technology to mindset. Every day I try, err, learn and try again. So far, I found that the most helpful survival skill is to talk to people, whether it’s a research assistant, post doc, fellow PhD candidates, or a professor. They don’t necessarily offer solutions but talking about things helps to clarify ideas and most of the time I get useful advice.

Want to know more? Contact Mengge at