MITACS Globalink Research Award


Saumik Biswas, Ph.D. Candidate in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

This summer, I had the opportunity to travel abroad and conduct my own research project at the University of Hong Kong—all thanks to the ‘Mitacs Globalink Research Award’.

During my research internship, I stayed on Pok Fu Lam Road in Hong Kong Island, which was right next to an academic hospital and the research laboratory I was visiting. The area itself was situated close to the ocean, mountains, and a lot of forests, and I would see this view every morning when I walked to work—it was truly magnificent.

In addition to the beautiful scenery, the knowledge I acquired from my research placement was extremely fulfilling. For the past few months, I had the opportunity to work with Professor Aimin Xu, who is a very successful biotechnology entrepreneur and an internationally renowned researcher that specializes in obesity-related cardio-metabolic diseases (i.e. diabetes). Professor Xu uses the findings from his basic science research to fuel the development of new antibodies and immunoassay kits in his company, which are then commercialized for basic science and clinical research, clinical diagnosis and high throughput drug screening. So, while I was there, not only did I learn new research techniques, but I also learned a lot from Professor Xu in regard to developing new biomarkers and bringing these new ideas to market. This unique learning opportunity allowed me to understand the intricate steps involved in the bench-to-bedside process—an opportunity that is not as easily accessible in Canada. Moreover, I made several life-long friends from Professor Xu’s lab, which will definitely help promote future international research collaborations.

Although I was in Hong Kong for a relatively short period of time, I was able to generate very promising preliminary data for my project. Based on those results, we will continue exploring additional experimental models (possibly involving animals and humans) throughout the year in hopes of establishing a novel biomarker for patients with liver disease.

One of the greatest benefits of receiving a Mitacs Globalink Research Award is that you have the opportunity to test your current knowledge and research capabilities by developing an innovative research project. My Mitacs project allowed me to ask pertinent research questions, compile necessary background information, create a strong research plan, conduct unique experiments, and critically assess novel findings in a very new environment. I would highly encourage current graduate students to partake in similar opportunities, as you will learn a lot about yourself and you will also be able to explore new career avenues in research.

All things considered, at the end of the day, I am confident that the knowledge and skills obtained from my international experience and my current training at Western University will allow me to provide valuable contributions to the scientific and healthcare fields in the near future.

Thank you to Mitacs International, Western University, Professor Xu, and Dr. Chakrabarti for allowing me to participate in this valuable experiential learning opportunity.