Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 NUS Research Congress Part 2

On the 21st February 2012, a group of Secondary 3 students were sent to listen to a series of presentations by Professors and students of NUS high. There was a presentation by Professor Soo, a Head and Neck Cancer Specialist, as well as 4 presentations by the students on their projects, namely: Effect of Stress on Subsequent Performance in Observers during High Fidelity Simulator-based Training, Impact of Transverse Modes Interaction in Fiber Amplifiers, Ultrasmall Peptide Therapeutics for Inhibiting Amyloid Formation and Generalized Quantum Tic-Tac-Toe.

In continuation to my previous post, I would be sharing about some of my views towards some of the presentations I heard during the congress, as well as some of the booths and research projects which caught my attention as I was viewing the projects done by the NUS students. I would like to share my thoughts after I have listened to the presentations: Effect of Stress on Subsequent Performance in Observers during High Fidelity Simulator-based Training and Ultrasmall Peptide Therapeutics for Inhibiting Amyloid Formation.

The presentation on the effect of stress on subsequent performance in observers during high fidelity simulator-based training is a research project conducted by two NUS students whereby they wanted to find out whether stress would come in the way of training a person to perform well in an operation for instance, and their research would lean more towards benefitting the structure of Anesthesia training. The students first listed out what form of data they wish to collect to determine the stress levels of their test subjects on a regular basis, and they chose to record their test subjects' heart rate and salivary cortisol. (a hormones in saliva whereby high concentrations meant high stress levels) At the end of their experiment the managed to deduce that repetitive practice would lead to higher performance, however they also noticed that observation may influence performance negatively. In my point of view I find their research useful in the application to the real world situations, and that their concepts and hypotheses were well thought through and procedure were carried out relatively well. Their presentation left a positive impact on me as I managed to learn something regarding the collection of data and proper data analysis.

For the presentation on Ultrasmall Peptide Therapeutics for Inhibiting Amyloid Formation, the NUS high student conducted a research on amyloids and how the fold normally to form proteins which could benefit the human body, but when they are "misfolded", they could cause diseases such as Parkinson's disease etc.) He shared about alpha-helical breakers which are peptide-based as well as alpha-helical intermediate are ver probably intermediates in amyloid formation. Through his presentation I learnt about the different end products amyloids can produce and the possibilities of ensuring that they end up being beneficial to the body instead of harming it. This has a slight relation to Prof. Soo's presentation and could lead to a cure or prevention of Parkinson's disease as well as the other diseases caused by the misfolding of amyloids.

 Poster 1: Preparation and Characterization of Cocrystals Involving the Diuretic Drug, Hydrocholorthiazide
 Poster 2: Antimicrobial biomaterials to prevent biofilm formation by Acinetobacter baumannii
Poster 3: Study of Mechanisms of Traditional Chinese Medicinal Herbs

The three pictures of posters above are a few of the projects which caught my eye during the showcase. As I am in Chemistry Talent Development Program, these projects seemed to make a link towards what I  should be looking at.

Poster 1 is a project whereby they work toward seeing if cocrytalization of the drug would improve its physicochemical characteristics of the drug as well as the bioavailability of the drug. This project is more towards trying to improve the drug to serve its purpose better.

The second poster however would be more towards the biological side as to the prevention of formation of biofilm, which contributes to infections when formed on medical devices and are difficult to eradicate. The group works towards finding out if various antimicrobial coatings would help prevent the formation of the biofilm and what can be improved to the design to find an effective anti-biofilm coating. This would contribute to improving the sanitary aspect of medical device usage and help in reducing the chances of infection.

The last poster is about the mechanisms of traditional chinese medicinal herbs. This group compared western medication with TCM to see if there were similarities and concluded that they do in fact share similarities in mechanisms and that there is scientific reasoning to prove that TCM is a reliable form of medication. This could pave way to the usage of TCM in western medication to improve the drug's ability to cure an illness and I find this project most interesting out of the three as it gives way to more different projects with relation to both western and traditional chinese medicine.

Grace Tan Soo Woon (05)

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