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Jonathon Leung outside the WIMM

In the third instalment of our series of blogs by students who have undertaken work placements at the WIMM, here Jonathon Leung explains why he chose to come to the Institute as part of a unique undergraduate medical course at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The programme, known as the Global Physician-Leadership Stream, encourages its students to travel abroad during their studies to experience research or clinical environments in other countries. Last year, Jonathon spent six weeks in Doug Higgs’ lab, and here he describes how his time at the WIMM has inspired him to pursue clinical research in the future.

During studying in medical school, my interest in the medical field not only pertains to practice medicine, but also to the research behind it as well. I want to become the one treating patients, but likewise the one finding clues to a better cure, or the basis behind diseases.

I remember feeling both nervous and excited when I first arrived in Oxford, the ‘city of dreaming spires’. Soon, it turned out to be an eye opening experience to meet and work with pioneering research experts side by side.

The Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) is among one of the widely renowned research centres, and I was attached to its Molecular Haematology Unit, which consists of multiple teams of over a hundred scientists and doctors from around the world. Even as an undergraduate student, I was given the responsibility and independence on the conduction of cutting-edge techniques such as Next-Generation Sequencing and CRISPR genome editing. With a personal one-to-one supervisor, Dr. Anthony Cheong, and close companionship with other researchers, I can also enhance myself with global vision and better prepare myself as a researcher by perceiving the thinking approaches, methodologies and the passion of Oxford experts.

Not only did I gain a deeper understanding of laboratory research and obtain early exposure into the field, the internship has also been a catalyst that helps me prospect into future opportunities to pursue further training in medical research. The Global-Physician Leadership Stream and WIMM has made this incredible learning experience possible for me, and my attachment was also supported by a scholarship.

This attachment has motivated me to continue to be involved in medical research in the future. These weeks have far exceeded my expectations and I would absolutely recommend it to future medical students interested in the academic field without reservation.

Professor Rossa Chiu, who was involved with setting up the scheme between the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the WIMM, said: “We are very pleased with the collaboration. The internship provides and opportunity for our undergraduate students to live and breathe science at a world class research environment provided by the WIMM.”

For more information about the Global Physician-Leadership Stream, and to read about the experiences of other students on the programme, click here.

Post edited by Bryony Graham.