Admissions Blog

When we were inducted into the Duke-NUS’ Benjamin Sheares College, we were excited to take on the task of promoting Autism Awareness. It was a real privilege to be part of this worthy cause as many of us had been touched by people with autism – either personally or professionally. We recognized the importance of raising awareness about autism throughout society and to draw attention to the need for social understanding and acceptance of individuals with autism.

Working with Duke-NUS’ main autism partners, Saint Andrews Autism Centre, Autism Association of Singapore, Autism Resource Centre and Rainbow Centre, our Sheares’ seniors together with colleagues from Duke-NUS, KK Hospital and other organizations, we began to learn more about autism by visiting various Autism Centres and inviting speakers to talk about autism. It is always a challenge to inherit a cause that has been upheld admirably by our seniors. They worked hard to execute the regular annual events such as the ION Orchard roadshow, the “Light It Blue” Campaign and the Healthcare Seminar in previous years. This year, we were challenged to continue this tradition while we sought to further increase public awareness.

On May 28th 2014, Associate Professor Denny Lie met with interested students to discuss sports medicine, his biomedical engineering research projects, and gave a hands-on workshop on arthroscopic surgery. A senior consultant for the SGH Orthopaedic Sports Service, Prof. Lie also holds a Ph.D. from the Imperial College of London in biomechanics and serves as the Deputy Orthopaedics Coordinator for the Duke-NUS Musculoskeletal Core Clerkship.

Growing up, I never thought about the constant moving as a gift. In fact, I hated it. I hated it so much that while children my age begged and wished for the newest playstation or gameboy, I begged and wished that I could return to Singapore. Moving was and still is hard. Making new friends, awkward introductions, foreign languages, and even more foreign cultures, were just a few of the many traumatic things that assailed my everyday.

The first six months were the hardest. Thinking back to my time in Bahrain – a small country in the middle east and my first move – elicits images of sand dunes, short dusty buildings, noisy souks, five a day salat projected over the neighboring mosque’s loudspeakers, and the horror that was British School: my Singaporean pronunciations of oil = oii, that = dat, and lack of prepositions were merry subjects among peers. I was uprooted from the only place I knew and thrown into an all too different world where the closest semblance to home was the lousy Chinese restaurant 15 minutes drive away. Taking that Boeing 747 out of Changi Airpot and into Bahrain International brought about many more changes than I could have ever imagined.

To me the New Year period is a time of reflection, for the experiences of the year behind us, and how we choose to move forward from that. In reviewing my experience of medical school so far there are three areas of life that come to mind and I can frame these as three challenges to keep in mind moving into the new year.

Time management skills are an important skill in a medical career, and we must learn these starting from when we enter the profession as students. My challenge for this area is not just to cover assigned reading, but to go beyond this. To find things that interest us and follow up on those, to keep in mind that the things we are learning provide a basis for clinical practice and to look for those links. While picking up additional textbooks might not be that feasible, there are review books that provide quick insights into utility such as the first aid USMLE and boards series, and books highlighting clinical cases that we can apply our burgeoning knowledge to.

Experientia docet in Latin means 'Experience is the best teacher’  
By: Yuka Suzuki, PhD Class of 2013

I am a first-year student at the Duke-NUS PhD Program in Integrated Biology and Medicine (IBM), with a primary interest in cancer genomics. Known as a foodie, I always look for the best food places, in particular Japanese food.

My second love is science, and so I chose to do a PhD in science. However, running computer scripts and churning out huge datasets was something I had never envisioned previously. Once I failed a computer programming class so badly I vowed never to touch a computer terminal again. However, I found myself getting re-acquainted with computational biology as I worked on my master’s dissertation in epigenomics at the University College of London (UCL). This was where I studied how epigenetics could lead to cancer in humans using a technology called next-generation sequencing and where I got my first taste of genomics. 

Joining Duke-NUS was serendipitous because after graduation I still didn’t know what I wanted to specialize in. Next generation sequencing was my first thought. 

If you ever had a doubt about what the word “commitment” means, you should try to ask one of the MD/PhD students – that is of course if you could find them: are they in the laboratory, the vivarium, the Academia, the wards, or the classroom…?

After 2 years of medical school and almost 4 years of full-time graduate studies I now find myself writing about the biggest commitment I have ever made in life. If I could illustrate this concept by calling the past six years a marriage, then it has been quite a fruitful one, resulting in not only scientific discoveries in the field of molecular neuroscience but also in fostering a beautiful collaboration between scientists at Duke-NUS Neurosciences & Behavioural Disorders Signature Research Program and clinicians at the Singapore General Hospital and Bright Vision Hospital.

As a Duke-NUS MD student I have been guided by some of the best faculty on how to be a good doctor and now as a PhD student I have been very fortunate to be taken under the wing of an excellent mentor, Dr. Antonius Van Dongen, who has shown me what it truly means to be a scientist. And I am not special: ask any of the other of our ever-growing list of MD/PhDs what they do for a living and you will most likely get the same answer.

Hello, I am Benjamin Farah, currently in my 3rd year of my PhD at Duke-NUS, under Dr. Paul Yen in the CVMD program. With my PQE (PhD qualifying exam) behind me, I've moved further on into my thesis research, as well as working on writing up some of my earlier projects for publication.

My PhD here at Duke-NUS has been a wonderful program so far. Although I had been out of a lab for a while when I started, it felt good to get back in the swing of research, and work on solving some interesting problems. My clinical year (2nd year of MD) taught me many things, but one thing that stood out is how there is still much unknown about many diseases, and how there is still much that needs to be done to improve treatment. I only hope that during my thesis research I can advance our knowledge, and be a (small) part of a huge effort to improve patients' lives.

Hi everyone! I’m Bernice, a first year student in the Duke-NUS Integrated Biology and Medicine (IBM) program, pursuing my Ph.D. in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases under the supervision of Dr David Silver.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Science in 2007, I started working at the National Cancer Centre as a Research Officer under the supervision of Prof Teh Bin Tean. In my 6 years working in a cancer laboratory, my love for research grew, and I decided it was time to challenge myself by embarking on this new journey.

In our first semester, students are required to complete a core course entitled “Molecules to Medicine”, which is conducted on a team-based learning platform. Lectures were pre-recorded and had to be reviewed prior to class, and through discussions and interactions with our lecturers and group members, I was able to benefit from this collaborative learning environment. What I enjoyed most was to be able to review current scientific literature and to be encouraged to think critically.

I am Javier, a first year PhD student in the Duke-NUS IBM (Integrated Biology and Medicine) program and am currently working in the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology department.

My interest and current area of research lies in cancer metabolism, which involves unravelling part of the mystery of how cancer cells sustain themselves. Before embarking on my PhD journey, I obtained a Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree from University of Western Australia and spent two years living in Tokyo doing volunteer work and travelling in Japan.

During those years, I was fortunate enough to experience the medical diagnostics and paediatric surgery field while interning at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital Singapore, and as a research student in Telethon Institute for Child Health Research Perth. These hospital internships allowed me to better understand the need for translational medicine, which in turn fuelled my passion to pursue a career in research. Duke-NUS offers such an opportunity, especially in the area of translational medical research.

I’m Rena, from the inaugural 2011 batch of Duke-NUS. I’m a general surgery resident at Singhealth and am currently taking a year off residency to do the Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Fellowship this year (2014).

Prior to my medical degree, I graduated with a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Being trained as an engineer, I have always been interested in medical devices and the medtech industry; and this was one of the reasons why I decided to choose a career as a surgeon.

As a fellow in the Singapore-Stanford Biodesign program, we spend 6 months in Stanford University and the following 6 months in biopolis in Singapore. We work in multi-disciplinary teams including engineers, business and medical personnel to examine clinical needs and learn the biodesign process. The Biodesign Process was developed in Stanford as a systematic approach to identifying clinical needs and the invention and implementation of new biomedical technologies.

Our program just started on 6 January 2014, and I am very much looking forward to this adventure. In the long run, I hope to be able to invent & innovate medical devices to advance patient care and also inspire future generations of young surgical innovators in Singapore.