Reflections by recipients of the MSBMB Travel Fellowship 2015 to attend the FAOBMB Congress 2015, Hyderabad, India. 
Phelim Yong, PhD
Taylor's University

Certificate presentation by Dr. CH Mohan Rao, Director of Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB)

We started as strangers and returned as friends. That was the main outcome for Young Scientist Programme (YSP) 2015 which was held in Hyderabad, India from 24-26 November 2015. In fact, I was among the few selected participants to attend the programme and was graciously sponsored by the Malaysian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (MSBMB).

 

When I reached the Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International Airport on the 24th November 2015 (midnight), I was overwhelmed by the friendly and warm welcoming team of students from Centre of Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), India who have ushered and guided us throughout the programme. Here, I have learnt more than just the wonders of research in both local and international platforms but as well as a rare chance to network among the participants. Not forgetting the “Best Biryani rice” in the world at Paradise Restaurant, Hyderabad, India which really stands up to its reputation.

 

During the programme, participants were inspired by keynote lectures such as ‘Quiet Time in Stem Cells: The Balancing Act of Reversible Arrest’ by Dr. Jyotsna Dhawan, ‘Data-driven Approach to Life Sciences: Dealing with high-resolution and high-throughput platforms’ by Professor Dr. Soumyadipta Pyne and ‘On the Method of Science, Darwinian Evolution and the Central Dogma’ by Professor Dr. J. Gowrishankar as well as presentations from YSP participants. More importantly, we had the opportunity to discuss and learn from each other throughout the entire programme. 

Apart from the scientific lectures and presentations, we were hosted to a multi array of cultural programmes that allowed us to be immersed in the culture of Hyderabad, India. These include a visit to Golgondar Fort which had beautifully choreographed the light & music performance on the history of Hyderabad, ice-breaking session & dinner during a serene lake cruise at Lumbini Park and charming Nrityopahara performance at BITS, Pilani by Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant & Ensemble. In addition, we have also visited the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) which is involved in conservation biotechnology especially for the endangered wildlife in India. 

The Young Scientist Programme (2015) concluded with an appetising and exquisite local and international cuisine in conjunction with the Foundation Day celebration of Centre of Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). From this programme, I have gained much valuable experience that will be cherished throughout my career as a researcher. One main lesson that I have learned from the Young Scientist Programme 2015 is “There is one truth and nobody knows the truth” and is particularly enlightening in our quest for scientific research.

Yogeswaran Lokanathan, PhD
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

With my poster at 14th FAOBMB Congress

First of all, I am very grateful to Malaysian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (MSBMB) and the organizer of 14th Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (FAOBMB) Congress for providing me the FAOBMB-MSBMB YSP Travel Fellowship to attend the Young Scientist Program (YSP) and the 14th FAOBMB Congress at Hyderabad India. I arrived at Hyderabad Airport on 24th Nov 2015 after midnight, together with other YSP participants from Malaysia and we were warmly welcomed by the postgraduate researchers from Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB). CCMB was hosting the YSP program and the researchers and the students of CCMB took charge of hosting the 3 day program at CCMB venue.  A total of 29 participants ranging from early career scientist to PhD students from various countries including India, Australia, Japan, Thailand and Bangladesh participated in this program. All the YSP participants presented their work both as oral and also poster presentation.  The lunch and tea times was provided in same area as the poster presentation area to enable the participant to have more time to interact, share ideas and network. I feel it did benefit the participant as we could have more personal time to discuss the research works that interest us. As for me, I learned many new things as the topics presented during the program varies from my current research area, tissue engineering. This opened up a new area of research for me and also the possibilities to collaborate with other participants.  Besides the YSP presenters, there were also talks delivered by some outstanding and experienced Indian scientist to wrap up their findings in years of their research career and also to share some tips to lead an exciting and successful career in science field. Their knowledge and wisdom really amazed and motivated me to be a better scientist.

 

On the second day, we were brought around the CCMB research labs and facilities, and they indeed have complete facilities to perform fundamental biochemistry and molecular biology. They are self sufficient in many aspects as they have their own peptide synthesizer, antibody production facility, DNA polymerase production, transgenic animal production and so on. The procurement of research materials such as reagents and equipments is funded by central government of India, and centrally managed and shared by all the members of CCMB. So, no wonder they are doing great research at CCMB with all the facilities and great minds available at CCMB.

Besides the scientific program we were also were brought for sightseeing around Hyderabad and had a dinner on cruise ship, which enabled the YSP participants and also the organisers to know each other more closely. On third day, we were brought to Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), a branch of CCMB situated approximately 1 hour from CMMB main campus. Here, they work with leopard as their animal model to ensure their work is really mimicked in an endangered wild animal so that their research finding correlate with real scenario and can be easily translated for endangered animals conservation. They use many available modern biotechnology tools to increase the endangered animal population and also to prevent illegal wildlife trade.

On the next day, we were transported to Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS Pilani), Hyderabad were the congress is held.  It transformed into a place to share knowledge in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology for next 3 days and half. Most of the presentation was the dismantling of mechanisms and pathways of various processes occurring in the human body as well as changes in the process that causes this disease and the ways to manipulate those pathways to treat the diseases. Many senior scientists presented their work of few years in sessions of 30 minutes. As almost all the speakers were invited speakers consisting of reputed scientist from India and also around the world, the compact presentations were very interesting and showcased the new knowledge in their research areas.  The sessions covered a wide area of research ranging from developmental biology to nanotechnology. The congress also covered some emerging fields like genomics approach in ayurvedic medicine. The educational session covered the approaches to popularize scientific concepts and their implication among the general public and also the stake holders, approach to increase the competencies of PhD graduate, and an example of social responsibility effort undertaken by a scientist to uplift an indigenous society.

The hospitability and assistance provided by the YSP organisers throughout the program is really commendable. Although we face problems due to language barrier and the cultural differences, the helpful YSP organisers were always there to assist us and make the experience at YSP and the Congress a wonderful one. Besides, the social programs and time out in Hyderabad also enable us to experience local culture and lifestyle, and know more about the ancient city of Hyderabad.

Overall, besides the scientific knowledge that was acquired, I was fascinated by the spirit of the scientist present there, in doing their research, some of them reaching their 70s and still passionate about their research. I returned more motivated, more enthusiastic and more research ideas. Moreover, now I have more friends around Asia region to collaborate with.

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