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    TMU joins ‘Malaysia’s Oxford’ for three days of partnership-building: Scientific symposia covered stem cells, cancer and tropical medical challenges

    Malaysia’s most famous dish is nasi lemak, a meal of meat, vegetables, chili paste and peanuts surrounding a mountain of rice. So Taipei Medical University (TMU) followed this model by presenting tasty samples of its leading-edge research during a fall visit to deepen ties with that nation.

    Eight TMU faculty members attended two University of Malaya (UM) scientific meetings aided by five TMU administrators to fast-track further collaborations. TMU professors were the largest visiting cohort of presenters at UM symposia on infectious diseases/tropical medicine as well as cancer and stem cells.

    A final event drew an overflow crowd of hundreds to hear Dr. Ming-Heng Wu speak on “Cancer: No Longer a Death Sentence.” But if that was the visit’s dessert course, preceding days had fresh and meaty talks too.

    Appetites in dengue-plagued Malaysia were clearly whetted by TMU researcher Dr. Ting-Wu Chuang’s super-accurate disease prediction method mapping rainfall, temperatures and past cases. Dr. Po-Ching Cheng discussed a possible vaccine for rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis), a deadly parasite that potentially afflicts billions from the United States to Asia and Africa through catchment water and produce contaminated by snail and rat hosts. Prof. Chia-Kwung Fan linked Alzheimer’s to canine roundworm, which is common but usually undetected in humans – and even a single parasite can spark a cascade of brain damage.

    Prof. Hung-Cheng Lai addressed stem cell experts on “Oncogenic ten-eleven translocation 1 (TET 1) in ovarian cancer,” and Prof. Rita Yen-Hua Huang gave a keynote lecture on “Niche modulation in cancer stemness and stem cell therapy.” Dr. Shian-Ying Sung spoke on “The role of protein-protein interaction in cancer metastasis,” and Dr. Ming-Heng Wu explained how “Stromal galectin-1 regulates inflammatory tumour-microenvironment and cancer malignancy.”

    In terms of research budgets and prestige, the main course was Prof. Yuan-Soon Ho’s overview of the university’s cancer research; the research group at TMU was recently awarded the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology’s largest research grant, and this work has been funded for a decade thanks to its promising findings.

    The delegation welcomed prospective students and other friends to a networking reception co-organized by TMU and the University’s Malaysian Alumni Association, headed by Datuk Dr. Tang Yong Chew. The standing-room-only crowd learned about TMU’s research and clinical trials introduced by Dr. Wu and Dr. Sung, both from the PhD Program for Translational Medicine.

    Dozens lingered to talk with them and with Vice Dean Dawn Chen, who discussed TMU’s educational operations. UM Medical School Dean Adeeba Kamarulzaman noted that during her previous visit to Taiwan, “TMU stood out [during the hospital tour]; it’s not fancy, like some medical tourism hospitals here, but it’s very functional. We have a lot to learn from you.”

    Clearly TMU is well-positioned to cater to Malaysian audience with Taiwan’s most prestigious research programs, high-quality English-taught graduate degrees and world-class care at our affiliated hospitals, opening doors for more collaboration in the future.