Christy Ang left her mark in the scientific community when she helped with the research and co-writing of an article about Huntington’s Disease which will soon be published in a scientific journal.
By CLAUDIA YAP
A broken friendship, 10 years ago, propelled recent graduate Ms Ang Jia Hui Christy, 20, to study medicine and its effects the human brain.
It was a decade ago when Christy cut off contact with her childhood friend who was diagnosed with an array of mental illnesses. She helplessly watched as her friend sent her photos of her bloody wrist and spiralled deeper into depression and schizophrenia, Christy eventually ended the friendship; which remains one of her “biggest regrets” today.
Medicine and illness did not always have any special meaning for Christy who recently graduated with a Diploma in Molecular Biotechnology and is among the top 10 per cent of her cohort.
The incident helped Christy to realise the significance of medicine, and how it could have helped her friend. Coupled with a passion for science, Christy decided to enrol in the School of Life Sciences and Chemical Technology in Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP).
It was during her final year in NP when Christy started her 12-month stint at A*STAR Laboratories (A*STAR) under Dr Harwin Sidik, a resident research fellow.
She began with a six-month internship where she learned a variety of scientific techniques before embarking on her final year project for the next six months, assisting Dr Sidik on a research study.
The study was on Huntington’s Disease, a progressive brain disorder, and the results were recently published in bioRxiv, the preprint server for biology. It is currently pending publication into a scientific journal.
“Apart from [things] that [are] meaningful, I like things that are challenging,” says Christy. In fact, she had dedicated her two-month semester break on the project to get a head start before school. When the school term began, she would “squeeze out pockets of time” before or after classes and co-curricular activities to work at A*STAR; sometimes until 10:00pm.
It was all worth it to Christy, she felt that her time at A*STAR managed to push her boundaries.
To her, hurdles were necessary to learn, and A*STAR allowed her to be a part of a larger project as compared to her peers who did their projects in school. Christy even managed to clinch the AIT Biotechnology Prize for the best final year project in her cohort and a Diploma with Merit.
“Christy was one of the most exceptional interns we have had in the lab,” wrote Dr Sidik in her reference letter. “It is my sincere belief that she will continue to be an exceptional student.”
With hopes of working in neurology or psychiatry, Christy will be applying for the medicine course at the National University of Singapore next year.