A Research Blog

Esther GanDr Esther Gan, recent Duke-NUS Medical School PhD graduate and speaker for her class shares with Microscope about her journey to Duke-NUS and her plans post-graduation.

How did you first learn about Duke-NUS?

I heard about Duke-NUS from one of my immunology professors during my undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia.

I have always been interested in infectious diseases research and my experience in an influenza laboratory further piqued my interest in pursuing this avenue. Coincidentally, Dr Ninan Abraham had a collaborator, Dr Veronika von Messling, who had just moved to Duke-NUS to set up a lab and he highly recommended that I did a year of research with her. She was a veterinarian studying the pathogenesis of influenza in animal models. I ended up working for her for a year as a research assistant. It was amazing the amount of techniques that I learnt from her! We worked with mice, ferrets and monkeys all within a span of a year.

We see that you started your Duke-NUS journey as research assistant and not a PhD student. Why didn’t you jump right into the PhD programme and what finally made you decide to take the plunge?

I didn’t know how I would adjust to Singapore culture – the people and the research - after so many years abroad. My idea was to come, work for a year and assess if it would be a suitable place to do my PhD.  It was tough; I missed the nature, the four seasons, the ability to drive two hours and immediately hit a ski slope. But it wasn’t impossible; I did manage to adjust to life here!

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.

In picture from left: Yoecelyn, Bryan Chua, Lim Sze-Xian, Eleanor Chew, Derek Lee, Prof Ivy Ng (Group CEO, SingHealth)

SingHealth Residency recently held the SingHealth Hackathon 2017 where staff and students from SingHealth and Duke-NUS, submitted proposals for innovations that would promote better coordination, communication and rehabilitation to improve patient care systems.  Fifteen teams competed in the Hackathon, and three teams were selected as top prize-winners.

Last week, Microscope talked to Duke-NUS students from CHIT, one of the winning teams. This week we chat with Lim Sze-Xian, Duke-NUS MD/PhD student and member of the winning team Move It!, about his experience working with a diverse team, his main takeaway and why he entered the Hackathon.

Describe Move It!

Move It! is an application that immerses patients in an interactive video game, which encourages them to perform rehabilitation exercises so as to recover their strength and range of motion more quickly. Move It! makes rehabilitation exercises easy to follow so patients know how to move their limbs by themselves safely, without the need of having a physiotherapist supervising them. The exercises that the patients are shown are customised to their specific condition. Our team is working towards commercialising the application so that patients will be able to start to benefit from it.

How did your team come up with the idea for your entry?

From left: Tan Chin Yee, Anthony Li, Izza Atiqa Ishak, Zach Tan Ye Zan, Prof Ivy Ng (Group CEO, SingHealth). Missing from photo: Tan Qian Ying Gayle.

In January of this year, SingHealth Residency held the first-ever SingHealth Hackathon that called for innovations that would promote better coordination, communication and rehabilitation to improve patient care systems. The SingHealth Hackathon 2017 was co-initiated by Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) alumna, Dr Rena Dharmawan, and NUS Alumna, Dr Cheong May Anne.

Fifteen teams, made up of staff and students from SingHealth and Duke-NUS, submitted their innovations, and three were selected as top prize winners. Today, we catch up with second-year Duke-NUS students, Tan Chin Yee and Anthony Li, members of winning team CHIT (Communicating Healthcare, Integrating Technology), to find out more about the application they devised, their SingHealth team members and what’s next for them.

Describe CHIT.

Chin Yee: CHIT is a secure communication platform for a patient’s medical team, which includes their doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and more, to communicate about the patient. Each patient’s records, medication and care are tagged to a patient-specific chat room. This way, every person on the medical team is kept up-to-date, and reduces any potential of miscommunication.

How did you come up with the idea of CHIT?

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