A Research Blog

Daryl Tan

The third year of research is a hallmark of the MD programme at Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), which gives students a chance to flex their investigative muscles and figure out ways to treat diseases, improve patient care, better understand patients– or really do any kind of research that will improve people’s lives.

Daryl Tan really made the most of his third year at Duke-NUS. His biggest takeaway from the unique experience was that he learned to seize opportunities to work with the best mentors, to present his research in international conferences and to win prizes for his work.

During his second year elective in Women’s Anaesthesia in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Daryl encountered brilliant, passionate and pro-teaching anaesthetists. For his third year, it was a natural choice for Daryl to do research at KKH under the mentorship of Associate Professor Sng Ban Leong, Director, KK Research Centre and Deputy Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Women’s Anaesthesia, KKH, and Professor Alex Sia, former Chairman Medical Board and Chief Executive Office and Senior Consultant, Department of Women’s Anaesthesia, KKH.

Together, they decided to focus on better understanding the barriers to breastfeeding for Daryl’s third year research project Breastfeeding has been shown to be beneficial to both mothers and their babies, so it is important to know why some mothers do not breastfeed or stop breastfeeding soon after childbirth. Daryl was awarded the Duke-NUS Medical Student Fellowship (Duke-NUS MSF), a S$10,000 grant, in December 2016, to support his research. The Duke-NUS MSF is an AM-ETHOS initiative that provides funding for clinical and translational research projects for third year Duke-NUS students with a research mentor who is from an Academic Clinical Programme in the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.

Using this grant, Daryl and his team from KKH and Duke-NUS further investigated what drove breastfeeding behaviours. Results showed that mothers who experienced significant pain before and after an epidural were more likely to stop breastfeeding than those who did not. The same was found for mothers who worried excessively during the childbirth process. Patients who received guidance from lactation consultants during their hospital stay were more than two times likely to breastfeed their babies than those who did not.

Daryl had the chance to travel to Bali and Brussels for conferences to present results from his research. This year, he was awarded the First Winner Presentation for Research Study at the 1st World Congress of Anaesthesia on Obstetrics in Bali for his poster entitled “The role of pain and psychological vulnerability in affecting the success of breastfeeding.”

After a very productive and fulfilling third year, Daryl will return to clinical practice in his fourth year of study at Duke-NUS this August, However, he plans to continue doing research in anaesthesia. About this he has to say, “For me, being a clinician-scientist is a lifelong journey that doesn’t stop at the research year. My passion is Anaesthesia so naturally my research will focus on Anaesthesia.”

Picture caption: From L to R: Professor Alex Sia, former Chairman Medical Board and Chief Executive Officer and Senior Consultant, Department of Women’s Anaesthesia, KKH, Dr John Paul, Senior Resident, Department of Women’s Anaesthesia, KKH, Dr Rehena Ganguly, Associate, Centre for Quantitative Medicine, Duke-NUS, Daryl Tan, third-year Medical Student, Duke-NUS Associate Professor Sng Ban Leong, Director, KK Research Centre and Deputy Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Women’s Anaesthesia, KKH, and Dr Han Nianlin, Senior Lead Research Coordinator, Division of Clinical Support Services, KKH 

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