Vol. 3 No. 1 September 2004

President's Welcome 

BE Major Developments
BE vs. BME

MIT Bio, Eng Options
Prof. Schauer: BME Program

BMES-J&J Research Award
Internship Experience Abroad
Prefrosh Visit

Letter from Berkeley
Letter from UCSD

MIT BMES Chapter Goals
MIT BMES 10th Anniversary

Printable Version

The BioTECH Quarterly

Where BME research can take you: work/study abroad in Singapore

By Lili Peng, Student Advisor

    Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) is one of the five main research institutes in Biopolis, a research complex created by the Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) in effort to fulfill Singapore’s vision and commitment to the biomedical sciences.
     The Biopolis serves as the ‘central hub’ that accommodates the entire spectrum of biomedical science research and development activities, ranging from drug delivery, medical devices, and clinical research. It serves as a liaison between private industries, academic institutions, and BME research institutes, seeding the growth of a vibrant research community in Singapore, Asia, and the world.

   Thinking about doing biomedical research? As MIT students we often strive to get that elusive summer internship at a biotech company or a BME UROP.

   I always thought that BME research opportunities only existed within the confines of industry or academia in the USA – until this summer. Along with 9 other ChemE students, I took the opportunity to travel abroad to Singapore to do research at Singapore’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) under the guidance of Prof. Daniel Wang (ChemE).

   My experienced exposed me to the differences between doing research in the same field (BME), yet in two very different environments. Coming from a highly intense, fast-paced environment at MIT, I was surprised to find that this was not so at BTI. People do not seemed as stressed in Singapore. They tended to take their time at work, yet they were capable of fulfilling their assignments on time.

   The laboratory facilities at BTI were also different from those at MIT. Contrary to the densely packed research labs at MIT, BTI consisted of ample amounts of open lab space. The labs were also replete with high-technology equipment, perhaps newer and even more state-of-the-art than those at MIT.

   Despite the differences I observed in Singapore, there were also similarities that I encountered. First, there were no language barriers between me and my co-workers, as English is one of Singapore’s official languages. Furthermore, the directors and managers at BTI all hold graduate or professional degrees, similar to the practice in the US, where leadership positions such as principal investigators are usually held by people with doctoral and/or professional degrees. Finally, student interns or “internship attachment” students from local universities were also common.

   Overall, my experience in Singapore affirmed that BME research is not only limited to the United States. In fact, BME research, or all scientific research for that matter, is a global effort!

Acknowledgements: Lili Peng would like to thank Prof. Daniel Wang, Susan Lanza, and BTI employees for supervising her summer experience.

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