Pharmacy Leaders of Malaysia: Dr. Mai Chun Wai
A Lifelong Interest in the Science of Medications
As far as he can recall, Dr. Mai, who hails from the city of Ipoh, was always curious about medications and how they work. After completing his secondary education, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Pharmacy program at International Medical University (IMU), Malaysia. Graduating with First Class Honors on the Dean’s List, he joined as a training lecturer in 2010.
It is after a stint as a pharmacist in a government hospital that he became aware of the need to improve the level of care offered, especially to cancer patients. Suffering from a benign tumor himself, he set out to dedicate his career to improve cancer care. “I hope that no one has to go through the dilemma and stress I had to when combating cancer,” Mai says.
In 2014, he completed his PhD in Medical and Health Sciences (By Research) and currently serves as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy, IMU, as well as the Head at the Centre for Cancer and Stem Cells Research, Institute for Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI), IMU.
Seeking a Cure for Cancer around the Globe
Dr. Mai believes that our own immune systems may be the key in fighting cancer. His PhD research focuses on immunity, and his team is currently researching cancer development to design treatment.
In 2015, he was one of only two Malaysians to receive the Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation Research Fellowship. For 6 months, he worked with other researchers at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK looking at microorganisms in Antarctic soil. Researchers believed if these organisms could survive in such extremes, they may offer tools to treat difficult illness.
That same year, Mai traveled to Milton Keynes, UK as the only Malaysian to receive the Royal Society of Chemistry Travel Award for United Kingdom Researcher Mobility in Drug Discovery Workshop. Finally, he spent two weeks in Naples, Italy researching at the Institute of Protein Biochemistry.
The Future of Pharmacy
Dr. Mai believes that big data has the potential of revolutionizing cancer research. Big data can help scientists identify areas of research to better treat cancer. By applying deep learning and data mining techniques, Dr. Mai’s team was able to focus its research on improving chemo for pancreatic cancer. The results of this work was recently published in Apoptosis, a prominent international peer-reviewed journal on cancer research.
Read the article here: https://bit.ly/31eaBMt
Data Science & Computational Precision Medicine Workshop
In view of the application of big data in precision medicine, IMU together with The Malaysian Genomic Resource Centre (MGRC), Perdana University and A*STAR are organising the Data Science & Computational Precision Medicine Workshop on 23-25 July 2019. The aim of this workshop is to present current efforts towards computational precision medicine and how these analyses are conducted. Mai added that this workshop will be useful to all healthcare professionals, scientists and postgraduate students who are interested in computational precision medicine.
More details on the workshop can be found here: https://bit.ly/2XzV8Eo
The Young Pharmacist Chapter
Dr. Mai is now in his 9th year with the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society – Young Pharmacists Chapter (MPS – YPC), which brings together over 10,000 pharmacists. Mai began as a student affairs officer, and now serves as a Chairperson. He hopes to future-proof young pharmacists through social media, talks, conferences, and dialogues about developments in pharmacy.
When asked about his own plans, Dr. Mai is still passionate about finding a cure for cancer. “I will not stop looking!” he says. His advice to young pharmacists is to embrace change, and to take up the challenge to be the best person one can for the society.