Special Programme in Science (SPS)

SPS Alumni in Duke-NUS Admission Talk

On 16 September 2016, Special Programme in Science and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School jointly organized an admission talk and panel discussion. Attended by 115 students from all facculties within and outside NUS (some came from as far as NTU), the talk at Lecture Theatre 31 was a great success. The event was divided into 3 segments. It started with a PhD and MD/PhD admission talk by A/Prof Silke Vogel, Associate Dean of the Duke-NUS PhD and MD/PhD programme, followed by an admission talk to the MD programme by Prof London Lucien Ooi, Associate Dean of Duke-NUS MD programme. The third and last session was a panel discussion, featuring our alumni and current Duke-NUS students, moderated by Mr Andreas Dewanto, Assistant Director of SPS.

Joining us in the panel discussion were 2 SPS alumni, Mr Arthur Yong Jun Jie and Mr Adrian Ng Chang Zhi, and a Life Science alumnus, Ms Ashwati Vipin. Arthur recently won the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize 2016. He is now in his first year in Duke-NUS MD-PhD programme. Bearing in mind the opportunity cost from taking a 7-year long MD-PhD programme, Andreas asked Arthur why he chose an MD-PhD programme, instead of a shorter PhD programme or a more popular MD track. His answer was both inspiring and nobel: he believes that the world is not in shortage of practicing doctors, but it is in shortage of practicing doctors with clinical science training. The latter is needed when one is looking for solution to eradicate disease permanently, and not to merely cure the disease temporarily. This is where Arthur would like to see himself doing... curing not only patients he will be seeing, but also patients he will never see in generations to come... that he decides to embark on the MD-PhD programme.

Adrian served as the SPS headmentor in AY 2013/2014. Graduated in 2014, he only clinched his place in Duke-NUS MD Programme after his application was rejected TWICE. Thus he had to wait for 2 extra years upon graduation before he got in to this dream programme. Consequently, Andreas asked Adrian for the motivation, and what he was doing in these past 2 years. Adrian admitted that to be a medical doctor has always been his dream. To our surprise, he had been applying to Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine every year even when he was still doing his undergraduate. After he graduated, he continued applying for Duke-NUS MD Programme every year. In the meantime, he took up research-assistantship to further his research interest and beef up his publication resume. In retrospect, Adrian thinks that his grit was what eventually won him the place in Duke-NUS; he has proven to Duke-NUS admission committee that he never gave up his dream despite of the many setbacks over the years.

Last but not least, Ashwati was a Life Science graduate. She currently is in her third-year PhD programme at Duke-NUS. Andreas' question to her was what made her decide to do PhD with Duke-NUS, instead of PhD with other equally prestigious schools, such as NUS Graduate School. Well, it had something to do with her interest, she said. She is interested in neuroscience, which is one of Duke-NUS’ five Signature Research Programmes. Besides, all PhD students at Duke-NUS automatically receive a scholarship covering tuition as well as a monthly stipend, which saves her trouble from enrolling to a PhD programme and securing scholarship fund separately.

The event concludes with a sumptuous buffet dinner, courtesy of Duke-NUS. Let's give our best wishes to Arthur, Adrian, and Ashwati.

Andreas gave a welcome speech to open the event.

A/P Vogel delivered her talk on Duke-NUS PhD and MD-PhD Programme.

Prof Ooi delivered his talk on Duke-NUS MD Programme.

Panel discussion with SPS/Science alumni and current Duke-NUS students. From left to right: Andreas (sit facing backward), Adrian, Arthur, and Ashwati.