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Biomedical Research, An Introduction (BRaIn)




BRaIn is an introductory course to Biomedical Research which provide opportunities for aspiring individuals to gain perspectives into how advances in biomedical research have transformed the practice of medicine. Spend two weeks with us in Singapore this summer.

BRaIn (June/Summer, Open to all

This non-credit bearing module is eligible for all undergraduate students across universities.
The module runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9.00am – 12.00pm.
The module takes place during June (Summer) and lasts for 2 weeks with a total of 6 sessions.

What Participants Learn

The learning objectives of BRaIn are for all students to successfully develop:   

  1. Thinking and reasoning competencies: identify, examine, analyze and critically evaluate biomedical research
  2. Biomedical competencies: understand how biomedical research influences clinical diagnosis and treatment
  3. Interpersonal competencies: work collaboratively with others and communicate effectively


Teaching Modes

TeamLEAD (Team Based Learning)

We will use TeamLEAD (Learn, Engage, Apply, Develop) as a form of collaborative team based learning. It employs a sequence of pre-class preparation, in class individual work, group work, immediate feedback and class-wide discussion. It focuses on giving students the opportunity to use course concepts to solve problems.
Here is an outline of the structure of ensuing classes:

A. Readiness Assessments (RA)

  1. Reading assignment (posted before class)
  2. Individual Readiness Assessment test on the reading
  3. Group Readiness Assessment test on the reading
  4. Simultaneous reporting of answers and class discussion

B. Application Exercises

Students will be exposed to case scenarios to apply their knowledge in solving the problems. For many of the application activities, we will use the 4S’s for effective group tasks:

  1. Significance – Problem, case or question that is relevant and significant
  2. Same problem – Groups work on the same problem or scenario
  3. Specific choice – Groups have to make a specific choice and argue for it
  4. Simultaneous report – When possible, choices should be reported simultaneously

The above sequence will be repeated in every session where there is a Readiness Assessment (RA) test. Students are expected to complete the reading assignments before coming to a RA session. Each session will begin straightaway with the RA, and this means students will not be given extra time to complete the readings in class.



(A) Readiness Assurance (RA)

There are a total of 6 RAs in this module, covering the following topics:

Genomic Medicine (1 session)
This session will provide students an overview of the advancements in genomic sequencing that gain momentum in precision medicine. One important component in Genomic Medicine is the use of an individual’s genomic information to offer targeted treatment, tailored to the individual. This session aims to also provides students some baseline knowledge of variants and also overview clinical applications of genomic medicine. 

Cancer and Stem Cell Biology (1 session)
Students will be introduced to the basic concepts of cancer biology and train them to apply these concepts in designing experiments that could aid the development of novel and better therapies to treat cancers. We will discuss how the hallmarks of cancer constitute an organizing principle for rationalizing the complexities of neoplastic disease, and how two emerging hallmarks, reprogramming of energy metabolism and evading immune destruction, are critical to cancer progression. Understanding the role of the “tumour microenvironment” and its widespread applicability in the development of new therapeutic strategies to treat cancers in the future will be discussed. In addition, students will also study the profound and multifaceted influences of stem cell research in both science and medicine.

Metabolic Disorders (1 session)
This session will introduce the concept of metabolic disorders focusing on type 2 diabetes and factors that influence the development and complications of this disease. The progress and pitfalls of current biomedical research to better understand and combat such chronic life threatening conditions, will be discussed. We will explore outcomes of the disruption in metabolic processes with a focus on body physiology and organs related to glucose and lipid metabolism. We will debate on possible causes of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, including obesity and lifestyle patterns. Students will explore possible mechanisms that result in these disease states, for example, the accumulation of toxic lipid metabolites in muscle, liver, pancreas and arterial tissues.

Emerging Infectious Diseases (1 session)
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are considered to be among today’s major challenges to medical science, global health, and human development. Recent outbreaks of Ebola virus, H1N1, H5N1, SARS, Nipah, and COVID-19 have cost numerous lives and heavily impacted regional and national economies. Students will be introduced to viruses and learn their unique strategies to manipulate host cells for its survival and ultimately causing disease. Discussions on the life cycle of different viruses and the methods used in studying them will inform students on the nature of the research of an EID scientist. After learning the basics of virology, students will be invited to participate in a discussion on the importance of vaccinations and how they work. The class will take a deep dive into the different types of vaccines, their perception in the general population and why it is important to combat the spurious anti-vaxx movement.

Neuroscience (1 session)
Students will be introduced to how the brain works, its abnormal function in disease and mental disorders, and the medical, legal, and societal consequences of individual differences in brain function. Students will explore the links between genetics, the nervous system, and behaviour, again considering the societal implications of such relationships (e.g. a “warrior gene” predicting aggressive behaviour). Through these explorations, students will gain an appreciation for the difficulty of defining “abnormal behaviour” and the variety in neural and mental function, and also appreciate how scientific inferences affect medicine and society.

Regenerative Medicine (1 session)
Regenerative medicine is an emerging area of translational research. It involves replacing, regenerating or engineering cells or tissues to establish normal function of organs. Research in this area addresses methods to grow cells and tissues that can be used in the clinic. Regenerative medicine has become an important area of study due to a global ageing population, longer waiting times for organ transplant, and the challenges of organ rejection. Students will be exposed to the fundamentals of regenerative medicine and how research in this area fits in with current medical practice.

(B) Field Trips

There may be a few field trips in this module, which will be confirmed nearer to the start of the program. The number of field trips vary, depending on the availability of the venues.

How to Apply

Dates: BRaIn 2020 will be held from 15 Jun – 26 Jun 2020.

Fees: S$450, inclusive of GST.

Application Period: 2-31 March 2020

Pre-requisites: The programme is open to working adults, current undergraduate student and students with good academic standing of no disciplinary or administrative procedures pending. 

The following items MUST be included in the application package that you submit online for admission to the BRaIn module:

  • Complete at least 1 year of a bachelor’s degree programme
  • A completed online application form
  • Supporting documents (stated on the application form) 

Application Form for BRaIn:

For enquiries on BRaIn, please send your email to

*BRaIn programme may be conducted via e-learning in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will update the registrants and applicants accordingly.