Admissions Blog

Yan Xiaoxi, Entering Class of 2017, PhD in Integrated Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (IBB)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

Hello, I am Xiaoxi from Duke-NUS PhD Entering Class of 2017, under the PhD in Integrated Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (Biostatistics concentration) programme. Prior to joining Duke-NUS, I spend 6 years in the UK studying and working. I completed an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences and Medical Physics at University College London (UCL), during which I had the opportunity to do a biostatistics internship at UCL Institute of Child Health. The internship allowed me to work on epidemiological data where I experienced first-hand the importance and wide application of statistics in the health and biomedical field. That was when my interest in statistics deepened and I went on to do a Master’s degree in Statistics at UCL.

After graduating, I worked as a statistician in the R&D unit of a London-based health tech start-up company, where I delved into the digital health industry, initiated and led a large-scale research project. I then decided to apply to a PhD programme in order to improve and gain more skills in statistics research.

How did you come to know about the Duke-NUS PhD IBB programme and what made you apply?

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?

Audrey Khoo (PhD Entering 2015 Class) 

audrey khoo phd duke-nus

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS

I graduated from the University of New South Wales in 2014, with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts in Music. During my time as an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to work with the UNSW Regenerative Neuroscience Group and SMART Recovery Australia. These experiences gave an insight on how people carried out research to study how computer-based brain training might slow ageing, and also how available literature is used to improve current drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes. I worked with Professor Gavan McNally for my Honours thesis, studying the role of striatopallidal pathway in relapse and reacquisition of alcohol seeking. That was when I knew that I wanted to continue doing research in behavioural neuroscience. I continued working as an RA in Professor McNally’s lab for a while, until I left Sydney.

Anna Uehara (PhD Student)

Student Spotlight

Fort San Cristobal in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I graduated with a B.Sc in Neuroscience with Honors and a B.A. in Music, concentrating on flute performance from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, USA. During my undergraduate years, I was a member of Professor Kathleen Page’s lab where I studied the effects of altered melatonin levels on the expression of genes involved in the circadian rhythm. After Bucknell, I started my Masters in Global Health at Duke University, North Carolina, USA. For my thesis project, I went to Sri Lanka and spent some time here at Duke-NUS studying Sri Lanka’s dengue epidemics with Duane Gubler and Christopher Woods. After graduating from Duke, I came to Duke-NUS to enroll in the PhD program focusing on emerging infectious diseases. I am now a member of Wang Linfa and October Sessions’ laboratories focusing on pathogen detection from sequencing and serological platforms.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Outside of science, my passion is music. I enjoy freelancing on piano and flute or having jam sessions with friends. I also have a strong case of wanderlust and enjoy traveling around the SE Asia region when time allows.

By Willcyn Tang, Class of 2016

Q: Introduce your name, course of study and what you did in your undergraduate studies.

A: Hello, I am Willcyn from the Duke-NUS PhD class of 2016.

I spent my undergraduate years studying biological sciences at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. During this period, I joined one of the research labs in NTU that studies the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases using fruit fly as a model organism. From this research exposure, I learnt how knowledge on experimental-based sciences, especially genetics and molecular biology, could be applied to improve current therapeutic approaches against incurable diseases that debilitate our society. This experience, indeed, provokes my interest to embark on a career in biomedical research.

Q: Tell us what your passion in research is and how you made the decision to pursue a PhD?

By Esther Gan Shuyi, Class of 2016

Q: Tell us what you did when you were studying in your undergraduate studies.

A: I had a fantastic 4 years at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Faculty of Science. In my third year, I declared my major in Molecular Biology and Cell Genetics. It was a rather bold move on my part as I still had very little idea on what I really wanted to do after graduation. My interest lays in human disease, and for a while I flirted with the idea of going to medical school. It never crossed my mind that I would like the field of research because I always assumed that I did not have the patience for laboratory work.

Q: Tell us what your passion in research is. 

Zhang Xiaodong

About Asst. Prof Zhang’s work at Duke-NUS:
Our work is to understand the basic science underlying psychiatric disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia and ADHD.  We use transgenic animal mouse models that recapitulate certain psychiatric symptoms, and study mouse behaviors using various drugs.  We also work with clinicians and study genetic mutations in psychiatric patients.  Our goal is to develop novel treatment and diagnostic tools for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.