A Conversation – From the Lenses of a Master of Medical Science (Research) Alumni

One conversation can be an impetus for change; an open door that leads you to the next. I first met Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming at the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya in 2011 who shared about an upcoming research project and a research assistant vacancy. As an early career working adult at that time, all I knew was that I wanted to grow my knowledge beyond our undergraduate years in nutrition.

About three years later, I gained valuable and transferable experience in multi-disciplinary research, communication and organisational skills, completed my MMedSc, co-authored publications, enjoyed fieldwork and found wonderful friends. In addition to these tangible results, these formative years as a postgraduate student and research assistant at SPM afforded me the opportunity to grow significantly in my awareness, interest, passion and involvement in various facets of public health research.

These findings include how sugar-sweetened beverage intake among adolescents were adversely associated with cardiometabolic risks, assessing gait speed and grip strength among urban poor older adults, and investigating the relationship between normal weight obesity and cardiometabolic abnormalities.

Subsequently, voluntary and cross-cultural work opportunities further provided me with the chance to witness and have conversations about the varying public health challenges among peoples coming from different cultures, climates and lifestyle patterns.

Little did I foresee that today, I would be pursuing the MSc in International Public Health in the UK, with grateful thanks to a fully-funded Women in STEM scholarship by British Council. I wish to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude and thank you to the Women in STEM at University of Malaya whom I had the privilege to learn from – my MMedSc supervisors, Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming and Prof Zahurin Mohamed; and principal investigators, Dr Nur Lisa Zaharan, Prof Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi and Prof Dr Claire Choo Wan Yuen, who have greatly inspired, given me countless growth opportunities and guided me along this path towards this exciting and dynamic field of public health.

To the lecturers, fellow researchers, and staff of SPM, thank you for contributing to my success through your camaraderie, kindred passion and support. To current and future students at SPM, keep enquiring, engaging, exploring opportunities and press onward. We need all hands on deck as we move forward in continuous learning and improving public health together.

Who can you have a conversation with today?

Written by Debbie Ann Loh, Master of Medical Science by Research alumni, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.

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