Young Scientist Travel Fellowship FAOBMB 2012 (Bangkok)


Inspiring experience by Young Scientist Program FAOBMB 2012 in Bangkok
By Lee Kah Heng, PhD


A travel fellowship was sponsored by the Malaysian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (MSBMB); it was an honor to be selected as representative from Malaysia to attend the Young Scientist Program (YSP) at the Sirindhorn Science Home in Bangkok from 23rd to 25thNovember 2012. This first YSP which was held preceding the 13th Federal of Asian and Oceanian Biochemist and Molecular Biologist (FAOBMB) Congress and organized by FAOBMB; has focused on interdisciplinary dialogue and it brought together 30 young scientists across the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. The ultimate goal of the YSP is to increase academic experience and promote the future networking between the young scientists.

On the first day upon arrival, we visited the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) laboratories which had been established since 1983. The research centre has been well-equipped with advanced technology platforms to support the scientific development of agricultural, biomedical, environmental science and consequently the social and economic well being of Thai people. For instance, the genomic and proteomic research on the reproductive maturation and immune system of the black tiger shrimp were conducted, in order to improve the farming sustainability of black tiger shrimp in Thailand. The visit was an eye-opening experience because it showed that basic research not only provides the evident-based solution, but also could be a driven factor to improve the country’s competitiveness in future.


In the scientific forum, we were given the opportunity to share our research findings in oral and poster communication, allowing close interaction with the talented and high quality young scientists from different research backgrounds. After engaging in scientific discussion and debates with these new friends, my passion and enthusiasm in research were renewed. Throughout the program, we stayed in the cozy Sirindhorn Science Home and have always been served with the delicious local food. After spending two days together, a strong friendship between the young scientists was established.


The fondest memory from the YSP happens to be the inspiring lecture by Prof Ada Yonath, who is the Nobel laureate in Chemistry in the year of 2009. She is a very humble scientist; her passion for science has amazed all of us when she vividly presented the unique protein structure of ribosome and the mechanism of antibiotic resistant with the evolutionary of bacterial ribosome structure. Besides that, the sharing on career development by Prof Andrew Wang (president of FAOBMB), Prof. Philip Nagley (president Australia Society BMB) and Prof Jisnuson Svasti (former president of Thailand Society BMB), have motivated us to courageously embraced the livelihood of a scientist.


In this program, I am glad to meet Dr. Goh Lai Kuan, one of the winners for Young Scientist Award who delivered an interesting talk on the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) internalization signaling of cancer research. She obtained her Ph.D. degree in Cell Biology, Stem Cell and Development from University of Colorado, United States and returned to Malaysia for a post-doc position in UTAR. We had an interesting discussion about the future development of science and also the challenges of being a competence researcher in Malaysia; which includes funding allocation, resources support and political issue. We both realized that there are many restrictions and difficulties in conducting basic research in Malaysia; however, the motivated lectures in this program once remind us the important of basic research and also our responsible to take up the challenges and contribute to the scientific development in local society.


Apart from the scientific session, there were also other social events on the program which allowed close interactions amongst the YSP participants and also the invited speakers. On the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, we celebrated the Loy Krathong Festival. A handmade decorated crown was released at the pond to symbolize forego of the negative thoughts as a thanks giving to the Goddess of Water. On the last day of the Congress, a half day tour was arranged to visit the Grand Palace; an unique architecture and splendor of Thailand.


The overall experience from YSP is not just about the science, but to learn about the path to be a successful scientist and future networking. One week away from bench, my mind was recharged and I came back with a rejuvenated spirit and reignited passion for my research.



Lee Ka Heng, PhD.

Department of Biochemistry

Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences

Universiti Putra Malaysia






                                  YSP delegates with Prof Ada Yonath,       

                                  Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in the

                                  year of 2009 (fourth from the left)


                                                                        MSBMB delegates at the welcome reception of the         

                                                                        FAOBMB congress. (From left to right) Lee Kah Heng-YSP

                                                                        Travel fellowship recipient, Prof Dr Sheila Nathan-President                                                                         of the MSBMB and Dr. Goh Lai Kuan-Young Scientist Award




               Selected YSP participants across the field of

               biochemistry and molecular biology from the

               Asia and Oceania region