School of Medical Sciences Universiti Sains Malaysia
The School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is one of the leading medical schools in the country. Established in 1979, the School has achieved remarkable successes since its early years of inception. We currently have 1,000 undergraduate students in the Medical Degree Programme and 500 postgraduate student pursuing the 4-year Masters in Medicine Course in 19 specialisations. This medical school is committed to enhancing the competitive nature of our students. We currently have 300 full time academic staff in 30 departments and units. International students are welcome to join our Postgraduate Training Programmes, most of which are held within the vicinity of our 700-bed University Hospital. The School of Medical Sciences is also proud to have academic staff who have achieved international recognition in their fields of specialisation, notably the teams working on micro vascular surgery, limb salvage surgeries in orthopaedic tumours, maxillo facial surgery, neurosurgery, tissue banking and biotechnology research. We are extremely proud that several staff won major awards in 2002 including the Geneva -based Innovation Award.
Vision of the School of Medical Sciences
Master of Science & PhD
USM's principal activities are teaching, research and consultancy, which relate directly to problems of higher level manpower training, the advancement of knowledge and national industrial competitiveness.
Although research is an activity that runs across USM's entire academic structure, certain key areas of study have been brought into sharper focus and given greater prominence through the setting up of Research Centres and Units. In addition to facilitating increasing inter -disciplinary studies, these Centres and Units have enabled USM to make more efficient use of its research space, equipment and staff.
Over the past decade and largely as a result of IRPA-led initiatives, USM has embarked on an ambitious programme of "applied", "market-driven" or "priority-specific" research, and this now accounts for around 70% of the total research effort. Today projects incorporate consultancy, technology-transfer and training elements which has enabled the University to strengthen its industrial links, and has given greater authenticity to its role of a contributor to the nation's industrial competitiveness. Commercially viable discoveries have been made; work is proceeding on promising pre-competitive technologies; successes have been achieved in close-to-market product development; a variety of skills and research findings have been passed on to potential beneficiaries; and some one hundred consultancies have been undertaken on an annual basis.
But the commitment to fundamental research and to the advancement of knowledge remains undiminished, and lies at the heart of USM's role as an institution of higher learning. This is a role which the country must continue to expect from its universities and it is a role which, if not performed well, can lead to serious weaknesses in the national research infrastructure. Given the current nature of industrial R&D in the country, where short-term advantages and "problem-fixing" are the main driving forces, it becomes crucially important for USM and other universities to continue being engaged in fundamental research because without this, depth and sustainability cannot be achieved for the nation's industrial efforts. Put simply, there cannot be good technology without good science.
Over the years, USM has established extensive research links. Active research collaboration exists with a number of universities and research centres both locally and overseas, and collaboration exists with international agencies such as WHO, ILO, UNEP. MOUs, with an important research component, have been signed with overseas universities and local research institutions.
USM possesses extensive research facilities which include several up-to-date laboratories in all major scientific disciplines, a well-stocked library, a computer network which provides easy access to research materials and which facilitates co-operative research both locally and internationally, a good range of modern scientific equipment and a field station for marine research. Individual research projects however, still need some dedicated facilities while some of the specialized research laboratories that have been proposed under the 8th Malaysia Plan (in line with national R&D priorities, and taking into consideration expertise and basic infrastructure already available) would also require support under IRPA.
The IRPA mechanism remains the main source of R&D funding at USM, while the University allocates a sum of money from its own operating funds annually to support short-term projects. External funds, mainly in the form of research grants and awards won by individual staff members, are also beginning to feature prominently, as are funds made available through consultancy-based research undertaken both for the private sector and for public agencies.
Message from the Deputy Dean (Research)
The principal activities of an academic member of an university, including those in the School of Medical Sciences, are teaching, research and consultancy. For the clinicians, the consultancy includes receiving second opinions for clinical management from colleagues outside the Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM) and most commonly, the consultancy services rendered to the patients of this hospital. For the non-clinical lecturers, the consultancy services are also related to improvement in patient care. These 3 activities (teaching, research and consultancy) are intertwined and inter-related. Knowledge is not a static phenomenon. Time and science change it and that is what research is all about. As members of an academic institution, it is our responsibility to generate knowledge. Conducting researches is one of the ways in which knowledge can be generated. There is a myth that all researches must be funded by research grants for without funds, researches cannot be done. This is when creativity comes in. Having said that, it is a general yardstick that measurement of the activeness of a lecturer in research, is based on the amount of research grant he/she holds.
Increase in knowledge leads to improvement in patient care. When your peers and the public perceive you as a consultant of a highly credible standing, you will become a reference person in management of certain diseases. Increase in knowledge will also make you better teachers. Medicine is fast revolving. What you teach to the medical students in their under graduate days may no longer be relevant when the students graduate. Therefore, research, teaching and consultancy are all intertwined in one package. You cannot subscribe to only one of these without subscribing the other two components.
My predecessors have set a good standard. Year 2002 in particular was a good year for our medical school. There were 63 short-term, 10 long-term and 16 Fundamental Research Grants approved. A total of more than 6 millions Ringgit was awarded to academic staff of SMS to do research. 218 papers by 172 academic staff were presented in national and international conferences. USM funded 83 of these, while the rest was funded by the research grants. There were 23 research presentations and more than 70 interesting case presentations at the weekly Thursday CPC sessions. It would have been expected that at least 50% of these research projects, posters and case presentations get published. Unfortunately, the R/D [Research & Development] office recorded only 20 published articles for 2002 and 24 in 2001.While our track record on the number of grants approved is good, the challenge for 2003 and the years ahead, I believe, not only to continue keeping the track record good but also to improve the numbers of scientific papers published.
may ask why bother to write? Publish or perish, the clich remains.
If you do not publish your research findings or your clinical
observations, your peers cannot acknowledge that you are the expert in
that field. Not only you document your findings in scientific journals,
you can also share it with the public by writing articles in
non-scientific journals. However, the former (the scientific journals)
are the ones used and cited by your peers and also the ones used for
promotion in most universities. Publishing your findings in
non-scientific journals allows you to share the findings of your
research with the community from whom you get the clinical material for
Take the challenge. Transpose fear to wonder, pain to gain, chore to joy, then the words will flow . like a river. Ordinary write-ups will become extra-ordinary write-ups!
I wish you good luck in your endeavours.
Dr Nor Hayati Othman
of Medical Sciences