Home-grown talent snags two awards at WCLC 2017

Dr Joslyn Ngu
04 Dec 2017
Home-grown talent snags two awards at WCLC 2017
L-R: Kho; the hospital director, Dr Kobayashi; and his mentor, Dr Ichiro Nakachi.

MIMS Doctor spoke to Dr Kho Sze Shyang, of Sarawak General Hospital, who won not one, but two awards at the recent International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC), held in Yokohama, Japan. The two papers that Kho submitted won him the IASLC International Mentorship Program and the WCLC 2017 Developing Nation Travel Awards.

Tell us a little about the IASLC International Mentorship Award.

The award is a professional development and education program for early career physicians or researchers studying thoracic malignancies from economically developing countries. The awardees are matched with well-established scientific and clinical mentors from within the hosting WCLC region and gets the opportunity to visit the mentor’s institution for approximately a week following the WCLC.

To be eligible, one must ensure the submitted abstract is accepted by the congress. Besides that, an updated curriculum vitae (CV) and recommendation letter from two supervisors were needed for the application. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Tie Siew Teck (my respiratory medicine consultant) and Dr Voon Pei Jye (consultant medical oncologist) for writing wonderful recommendation letters for me.

The award covers the registration fee for the congress, plus travelling and accommodation expenses throughout the stay in Japan. My mentor was Dr Ichiro Nakachi, of the Saiseikai Utsunomiya Hospital in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture in Japan. He is the head of respiratory medicine in Saiseikai Utsunomiya Hospital. He is actively involved in lung cancer management and research.

Would you mind sharing your experience or lessons during the mentorship program?

The exposure to the Japanese healthcare system is priceless. I had the chance to observe how systematic, advanced and disciplined the system is. Japan, being a developed nation, has easy access to the latest treatment options, which can be very expensive. This is different compared to Malaysia, where only certain patients has access to latest treatment options through enrolment in suitable clinical trials.

I was also exposed to various respiratory endoscopy techniques during my attachment, which is my passion and interest. Experiences and ideas have been exchanged and hopefully can help to refine our current technique in our centre. 

Although I am a physician, I took the opportunity to join the thoracic surgical team under Dr Atsuishi Tajima. I had the golden opportunity to observe various thoracic surgical operations and was even involved in a hands-on animal lung dissection session!

The most valuable outcome of this experience is establishing a bond between our centre and the Japanese centre. Hopefully in the future, we can come up with some form of collaboration.

You also won the WCLC 2017 Developing Nation Travel Award. Can you share some details about it?

I submitted two posters to the congress to ensure I stood a better chance of winning an award (sorry for the kiasu-ness). The WCLC 2017 Developing Nation Travel Award encompasses complimentary congress registration, accommodation and US$1,000 for transportation. The difference between this and the mentorship award was that this one is without the attachment to a mentor. Unexpectedly, one of my posters won the mentorship award, while the other one won the travel award.

Any word of encouragement or advice for other aspiring award winners?

I am from Sarawak General Hospital, the main tertiary hospital in Sarawak and only referral centre for respiratory cases. As such, we have a heavy patient load and our aim is always service, service and service. However, always try to make some time (it is okay to miss few lunches) to collect some clinical data amid your busy schedule, and try to analyze and audit our own performance. Eventually, you can write up and publish these data; and perhaps land yourself an award or two, like in my case!

I always believe that opportunities and chances are always out there, but it would not be served to you on a silver platter. You need to go out and grab it. Everyone stands an equal chance on the international stage, even if you are just a doctor from the jungle of Borneo.

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