TAM Wai Leong
Senior Research Scientist (former PhD student)
Cancer Therapeutics and Stratified Oncology
Genome Institute of Singapore
Having the opportunity to join GIS, just as the biomedical endeavours of Singapore was taking off in the early 2000s, has been an extraordinary privilege.
GIS started with a humble beginning: from a fairly small, tight-knitted community of brilliant scientists from around the world, to one which grew quickly and became transformed into a world-class research organisation. What defines GIS, in the past and now, is culture and research excellence. These are the key distinguishing features that attracted me to pursue my graduate training, and later on, to build a scientific career at GIS.
The graduate programme is intensive and rigorous. At this premier biomedical research institute, graduate students have the opportunity to develop groundbreaking ideas, and engage in cutting-edge science. The exciting and challenging projects interface innovative biological questions with advanced state-of-the-art technologies housed here – this enables us to approach and solve important biological and clinical problems that very few others can do. I was very fortunate to be part of the highly-regarded Stem Cell Biology Programme that was led by renowned investigators Profs Bing Lim and Ng Huck Hui. It represents a 'golden era' when we made landmark discoveries that helped position Singapore as an emerging research powerhouse that could punch above her weight on the global biomedical research map.
The training I received had a long-lasting impact that prepared me well to adapt to the ever-changing research environment. Here, graduate trainees are immersed in a vibrant community whereby we were taught to identify important and meaningful biological problems, and also to adopt a ‘macro’ perspective of the research topic at hand. Trainees not only build an in-depth knowledge in their areas of expertise but also learn to think much more broadly. The ability to stay nimble, adaptive, and relevant are key traits that will prove invaluable as they move into academia, industry, or other biomedical-related career tracks.
Indeed, many of my peers who had trained at GIS have found great success as scientists, professors, entrepreneurs and policy shapers – both locally and internationally.