ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

Liwen Lee (MD Class of 2020)

At the Duke-NUS White Coat Ceremony in 2016 

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I studied at the University of Edinburgh for my undergraduate degree (in Medical Sciences) and graduated in the summer of 2016, a few weeks later I started my term in Duke-NUS!

So what got you interested in Medicine?

I was a part of St John Ambulance when I was in secondary school, where I not only learnt some medical knowledge but also the value of service. I realised I was super excited learning about the human body/medical conditions and I relished every opportunity given to me to serve as a First Aider. I knew then that I wanted to bring this one step further to pursue Medicine.

So how did you find out about Duke-NUS?

Mervyn Chan (MD-PhD Student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I was in the pioneer batch of my undergraduate course - Sport Science and Management which started in 2009. Exercise was my hobby and the thought of being able to learn more about a field I loved prompted me to join the course. It was there that I learnt about basic human anatomy, exercise physiology and biomechanics which provided a foundation for the first year of medical school curriculum. Not that I knew I was going to pursue medicine at that point in time. It was a great 4 years spent doing the things I loved. However, 4th year came and it was time to face reality again.

My final year in the course was when I really thought hard about what I wanted to do post-graduation. Did I want to go into sport science research? Did I want to pursue public health? Did I want to do something in allied health? It was during my 4th year internship stint at Health Promotion Board, where I spent 6 months learning about health policy and public health, when I knew I wanted to work in healthcare instead of elite sports.

chan wee lee

Having fun while learning

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I went up to Oxford in 2004 to read Biochemistry. While I was a student at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, I had several incredible tutors who were leaders in the fields of biophysics and structural biology. In my four years there, I was greatly influenced by their work and developed a strong interest in understanding the structures and functions of biological molecules. Upon graduation, I was keen to further my training in this field, and one of my tutors recommended me to a friend of hers, Professor Randy Read, at the Department of Haematology in Cambridge. It was in Professor Read’s laboratory that I pursued a PhD, where I learned to use X-ray crystallography to elucidate protein structures to angstrom resolution.

Duke-NUS Student at Everest Base Camp

One of my fondest memories - trekking to the Everest Base Camp

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

Prior to entering Duke-NUS, I studied in NUS. There, I majored in Chemistry and minored in Life Science and Forensic Science. These subjects allowed me to be exposed to a wide variety of medical-related topics, from Biochemistry to Forensic Medicine. That got me interested in Medicine. In my second year during my undergraduate studies, I enrolled in the Pre-Medical Track, a programme that is designed to expose students to the translation of scientific discoveries at the bench to changes in the healthcare system at the bedside. I went through a seminar-styled module, modelled after the TeamLEAD learning method that Duke-NUS adopts. It was through this programme that I had opportunities to volunteer at local health screening events with Duke-NUS medical students, interact with various Duke-NUS faculty members, shadow a medical oncologist in the National Cancer Centre, and even go on a Student’s Exchange Programme in Duke University in Durham, North Carolina! Eventually, these opportunities strengthened my interest in Medicine and I decided to apply to Duke-NUS during the end of undergraduate third year. I have never wavered in my decision since.

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

Before coming to Duke-NUS, I did my undergraduate studies in NUS and majored in Pharmacy. During my third year of studies, I did a 6-week hospital attachment and that experience shifted my sights to a possible medical career. After I graduated, I trained as a pre-registration pharmacist in National University Hospital (NUH) for 9 months and subsequently took some time off to develop my sporting interests before starting in Duke-NUS.

White Coat Ceremony Day

White coat ceremony day with my parents

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I love playing sports. It’s all fun, friends and exercise wrapped into one. Most of the time, I play touch rugby and last year, I went to the Touch World Cup 2015 that was held in Australia. It was an awe-inspiring and humbling experience to play against the best teams in the world. Being active helps keep me balanced and sane so I still play in leagues games on Saturdays whenever I can.

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

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.

Danny Tng (Year 1 MD Student)

Student Spotlight

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I did my Bachelors in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. In my final year of Bachelors, I had the opportunity to participate in cancer related research. It was then that I had the dream of contributing to healthcare though research. I decided to stay on for 3 more years at NTU to do my PhD, working on micromachines and nanomedicines for cancer treatment in Prof Yong Ken-Tye’s group. Concurrently, I also had the opportunity to work as a researcher for the NTU x National Healthcare Group (NHG) collaboration project with Adj Prof Tan Cher Heng. During that time I had the privilege of working with many researchers as well as clinician scientists who shared the same dream as me. It was then that I had the aspiration to become a clinician scientist in order to care for patients as well as to have the ability to do research which can directly contribute to taking better care of them in the future.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Vanessa Cheong (Year 1 MD student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I spent 4 memorable years studying Pharmacy in London School of Pharmacy (now merged under University College London) in the city of London, United Kingdom before graduating with an MPharm degree in 2013. After completing my 1 year pre-registration training at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and various institutions, I worked as a pharmacist in IMH's general psychiatric, rehabilitation and the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) ward before joining the Duke-NUS MD program last year in 2015.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I enjoy creative and artistic pursuits in general, especially art and music. I draw and do digital art in photoshop, sing and perform occasionally. I also love the Japanese language and culture and will be happy to have more opportunities to practise the language! My other hobbies include reading, travelling and photography.

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

Introducing…

Haikel Lim (Year 1 MD student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I graduated with a BSocSci(Hons) from National University of Singapore (NUS), where I read psychology and was part of the University Scholars Programme. Because I was incredibly interested in the spectrum of psychological research, my junior undergraduate years were spent as a volunteer research assistant/minion for a number of amazing mentors both locally and overseas (shoutout to Prof Crystal Park, Dr June Gruber, and Dr Patricia Chen!), and my senior undergraduate years were spent under the tutelage of A/P Konstadina Griva at NUS, where we worked on understanding the issues and barriers facing dialysis and diabetic patients. I spent the next two years after graduation as a full-time research associate for the inspiring A/P Rathi Mahendran and Prof Kua Ee Heok at National University Health System (NUHS), where we strengthened the clinical research arm of the Psychosocial Oncology Service. While at NUHS, I also pursued a part-time research MSc with NUS focused on psychological medicine and biostatistics, before joining Duke-NUS to commence my medical education.

Introducing…

Cindy Zhu (Year 2 MD student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I was born in Nanjing, China, and moved to Canada with my family at age 7 to the beautiful West Coast city of Vancouver. I did my undergraduate studies at McGill University, where I majored in Physiology and minored in Social Studies of Medicine. During my third and fourth years, I worked as research assistant in Dr. Jon Sakata's neurobiology lab, whose research focuses on the neural basis of vocal communication using the songbird model, a topic that I found quite fascinating. I moved to Singapore in the same summer that I graduated from McGill to join the Class of 2018 at Duke-NUS.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Since I was young, I enjoyed playing the piano as I found it a really enjoyable way to express myself. After moving away from home and no longer having regular access to a piano, I started jogging and doing yoga, which are my go-to stress reliever activities now in medical school. I also enjoy exploring Singapore (even if it's from of studying at different Starbucks cafes around Singapore with my roommates during the busy periods) as much as time allows.

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