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Min Yee Chow

PhD student

Monash University Malaysia

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Be the best version of you!

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a PhD candidate who has strong interest towards cancer research, particularly in research related to cancer signaling. I am currently pursuing my PhD degree in the Brain Research Institute (BRIMS), Monash University Malaysia. My PhD project focuses on understanding how a brain hormone drives a deadly brain tumour (glioblastoma) aggressive.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

30 years ago cancer was once known to be an incurable disease because very little was known about cancer and therefore, no effective treatment had been developed for cancer during that time. Cancer is still the second leading cause of death worldwide, hinting that lots of efforts are still needed to tackle this critical public health issue. I believe that by having a better understanding aboug cancer, we will be able to develop more effective treatment for this disease. Therefore, I have strong interest towards cancer research (particularly for rare cancer) and I hope that the findings of my research will bring new hope for cancer patients!


During my undergraduate studies, there was a time which I suffered from continuous dizziness, tiredness & weight loss (and I found a lump at the back of my neck). The doctor suspected that I might have head & neck cancer and started to refer me for a series of medical check-ups. I was really distressed during that time and I still remembered that I even forget about the route to walk back to my hostel! As I am really interested in cancer, I undertook a cancer module in my final year studies (so I clearly know what is happening inside my body!). That was really a tough time for me... I cried over countless nights... I felt hopeless and I was scared to go through the treatment and I felt that I might not survive even I went through the treatment (all the negative thoughts just occupied my mind!). After two rounds of checking, thankfully, the lump was diagnosed to be a benign one. I am really blessed that this was a false alarm but this event strengthened my determination to pursue the cancer research path. I really hope that more cancers will become curable in the future.

HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?

I believe research is a very challenging path in which you need to stay optimistic and work hard to get your experiment done regardless of how many failures you face. When I first started my PhD studies, there was time  I was doubting my capability and feel myself stupid after I failed to do a procedure for few times. I feel thankful to have a very patient supervisor who encouraged me to practise more and take this as a learning process. Also, my seniors are very kind to share some useful tips in excelling those skills / techniques. With a few more rounds of practice, I become better in doing this procedure and finally mastering it! Now, I am the senior to guide my junior in this technique!


Secondly, the research path is a marathon. You need to keep up with readings, writings, experiments over the long run so sometimes you may feel restless and can't really see an end for your work. There were time that I worked at least 12 hours/day and 7 days in a week... till a point that I was so tired and I don't feel that I am enjoying what I am doing! Luckily, I have a bunch of awesome colleagues who always care of me and they always remind me to take a good rest. They are great listeners and good advisors for me. Really thankful to have them with me, sharing my issues whenever I am down and encourages me whenever I am lost! 


Last but not least, whenever I feel like giving up, I will tell myself to think over the reasons that I join this path (cancer patients need us to find a cure for them!), then I will regain my determination to continue work harder!

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

Having the opportunity to do a PhD degree without a masters degree is lucky but challenging. I need to work extra hard to make sure that I am fit for this offer and I don't want to disappoint those who offer me this opportunity... so I tend to overwork and I seemed to be too focused on my work. I wish to tell myself not to overwork, stop for a while and be a bit more caring to everyone around me... make them feel my love & care towards them.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

STEM is a lovely community!

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Be the best version of you!

INSPIRATION

My favourite quote - Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection!