USM NEWS PORTAL 

FESTIVAL OF FLAMES 4K MARATHON: RUN WITH FIRE, RUN WITH HEARTS TARIK PENYERTAAN 862 PESERTA

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USM PULAU PINANG, 27 Mei 2023 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) melalui Rancangan Khidmat Komuniti (RKK USM) di bawah pemantauan Pusat Rancangan Kokurikulum (PRK USM) telah menganjurkan acara larian Program Festival of Flames 4K Marathon: Run With Fire, Run With Hearts.

Program ini adalah kesinambungan dan pembaharuan kepada Program Neon Run yang telah diadakan pada tahun 2023.

Berlangsung di Padang Kawad USM pada 24 Mei 2024, program larian ini disertai seramai 862 peserta.

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Hadir merasmikan program adalah Timbalan Naib Canselor Hal Ehwal Pembangunan Pelajar dan Alumni USM, Profesor Dr. Shaharum Shamsuddin mewakili Naib Canselor USM, yang turut melepaskan para peserta larian.

Shaharum dalam ucapan perasmiannya berkata, Program Festival of Flames 4K Marathon ini bukan sahaja bertujuan melahirkan pelajar atau masyarakat yang cergas dan sihat malah melibatkan pengutipan sumbangan, yang mana sebahagian sumbangan ini akan didermakan kepada golongan yang memerlukan.

“Ini merupakan satu inisiatif yang sangat bermanfaat dan patut kita banggakan kerana program yang diadakan ini juga menyediakan landasan ke arah perpaduan, menjalinkan sifat kemanusiaan dan kesukanan yang tinggi dalam kalangan pelajar dan masyarakat di luar sana,” jelas beliau lagi.

Sementara itu, Pengarah Pusat Rancangan Kokurikulum USM, Profesor Madya Dr. Mohamad Haafiz Mohamad Kassim dalam ucapannya berkata, hampir 80% tenaga kerja bagi program ini datangnya daripada pelajar sendiri terutamanya dari Rancangan Khidmat Komuniti USM.

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“Teruskan usaha anda melaksanakan program-program seumpama ini yang bukan sahaja melibatkan pelajar USM tetapi juga masyarakat luar kampus supaya mereka lebih mengenali USM,” ujarnya.

Menurut Pengarah Projek, Nur Farahani Rasol, beliau berharap agar program seperti ini dapat diteruskan pada masa akan datang kerana melalui program ini dapat melahirkan pelajar yang sentiasa mengambil cakna akan kesihatan dirinya dan dapat menjadi medium penyatuan di antara masyarakat.

Hadir sama adalah Encik Mohammad Kasni Ismail, Pengarah Jabatan Keselamatan, Penasihat Program Festival of Flames 4K Marathon USM, Dr. Noor Alyani Nor Azazi dan pegawai-pegawai utama Universiti.

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Teks: Siti Fatimah Abu Mansor/Foto: Shahnizam Ab Rahim 

IC3D 2024 ADDRESSES GLOBAL HEALTH CHALLENGES ON DRUG DISCOVERY AND DELIVERY

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PENANG, 14 May 2024 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), through the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences together with the Malaysian Society of Pharmaceutical Technology (MSPT) recently organised the International Conference on Drug Discovery and Development (IC3D) 2024.

The jointly-organised scientific conference brought together more than 100 scientists, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, representatives from the government agencies and pharmaceutical companies to share their latest research and insights on drug discovery and development.

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Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, USM Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Dr. Habibah A Wahab, who is exercising the functions of the USM Vice-Chancellor said that in the current rapidly-evolving landscape, the quest for discovering new drugs and enhancing their delivery methods has never been more critical.

“This year's theme, "Drug Discovery and Delivery: Present and Future," highlights the importance of collaboration and innovation in addressing global health challenges.

“From combating infectious diseases to alleviating chronic conditions, the impact of collective efforts in drug discovery and delivery has touched the lives of millions.

“Across the globe, researchers and practitioners are utilising cutting-edge technologies and methodologies to produce novel therapeutic agents and optimised drug delivery systems to address unmet medical needs,” she said.

Habibah added that all these are made possible through interdisciplinary collaborations, data-driven approaches and precision medicine initiatives.

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The President of MSPT, Dr. Thaigarajan Parumasivan said that IC3D 2024 represents more than just a conference. It symbolises a beacon of collaboration. It is a platform that unites local and international experts under one roof to foster the exchange of ideas and knowledge essential for shaping the future of pharmaceutics.

“The theme ‘Drug Discovery and Delivery: Present and Future’ encapsulates the current advancements in drug discovery and delivery, while simultaneously foreseeing the path for future developments in tackling global health challenges,” he added.

IC3D 2024 was held in a hybrid manner to allow both in-person and virtual interactions during its keynote and plenary sessions as well as its poster and oral presentations.

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In addition, a post-conference workshop session offers attendees the opportunity to further understand the issue of drug development.

Also present at the opening ceremony was the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences Dean, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nurzalina Abdul Karim Khan.

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Text: Siti Fatimah Abu Mansor/Editing: Tan Ewe Hoe/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md Isa

NPC IDENTIFIES E-CIGARETTE POISONING TRENDS: URGENT CALL FOR REGULATORY ACTION

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USM PENANG, 8 April 2024 – The National Poison Centre (NPC) at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) plays a vital role in addressing poisoning incidents across the nation, closely monitoring emerging trends associated with new products in the market or regulatory alterations.

According to NPC drug and poison information services chief pharmacist, Sulastri Samsudin, NPC has been monitoring poisoning exposure cases related to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and their liquids since 2015, when they were first made commercially available.

“Over the span of nine years from 2015 to the present, the NPC has meticulously observed 111 cases linked to e-cigarettes and their accompanying liquids, with notable surges occurring during two distinct periods, first between 2020 and 2021, and then between 2022 and 2023,” she cited.

Sulastri said the first phase of increase by twice was in 2020 at 13.5 per cent and 2021 at 19.8 per cent compared with 6.3 per cent in 2019, which was during the Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The majority of cases then involved children aged below five. This situation can be attributed to the accessibility of these products to children due to inadequate storage practices.

"This is further compounded by the form of product packaging, especially liquid e-cigarettes without safety features and the existence of interesting flavourings such as appealing food and sweets/candies.

"The second phase of increase was after the MCO, which was in 2022 and 2023. Although there was a slight decrease to 18 per cent in 2022; in 2023, the NPC recorded the highest number of e-cigarette exposure calls of 30.6 per cent, a five-time increase compared with 2019,” she said in a statement released recently.

Sulastri also mentioned that in the same year, nicotine was removed from the Poisons Act 1952.  

“The second phase also showed a change in the trend in the age category, where more teenagers aged 15 to 19 years experienced poisoning due to the deliberate use of e-cigarettes.

“Furthermore, more than 95 per cent of reported cases were symptomatic,” she said.

“The majority of symptoms exhibited by patients were consistent with nicotine poisoning symptoms such as severe vomiting, drowsiness, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fainting, and seizures/convulsions.”

She, however, said there were also patients who showed more severe symptoms such as psychosis, hallucinations, aggressive behaviour changes and were suspected of involving drug abuse into e-cigarette liquid.

"Since 2021, the NPC had started receiving cases of exposure to e-cigarettes linked to the drug, Magic Mushroom, or its active ingredient psilocybin, and recorded a total of 23 cases to date.

"Without any control over e-cigarettes, the NPC cannot confirm the content of the substance," she added.

As such, Sulastri urged the government to speed up the implementation of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2023 which was approved last year, to ensure greater control of electronic cigarette products, mitigate e-cigarette-related harm, and safeguard public well-being.

Among the control measures that can be taken are:

  • Use safety caps for e-cigarette refill containers;
  • Prohibit the use of food flavourings in e-cigarette liquids;
  • Limit the concentration of nicotine and the amount of liquid in e-cigarette liquids and refill containers;
  • Ensure that products, especially chemicals, are tested and registered for monitoring purposes;
  • Set a strict standard operating procedure for product manufacturing processes of e-cigarette products;
  • Strengthen the monitoring system for cases of exposure to e-cigarette poisoning;
  • Ensure that e-cigarettes are off limit to minors/underaged individuals.

"NPC once again calls for the speedy implementation of control over smoking products, especially e-cigarettes, to prevent more Malaysians, especially the younger generation, from falling victim to nicotine addiction and poisoning," Sulastri said.

Translation: Tan Ewe Hoe

PHARMACY CAREER DAY 2024 BRINGS OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS TO ENGAGE WITH INDUSTRY EXPERTS

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USM PENANG, 21 May 2024 – The Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) School of Pharmaceutical Sciences organised a programme today to provide engagement opportunities for students with experts and players in the field.

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In her opening speech, the Dean of the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Associate Professor Dr. Nurzalina Abdul Karim Khan said, the programme is pivotal as it is planned for the students to explore a myriad of opportunities to establish connections and to be involved in network sessions with industry experts.

She continued by saying that though many students can excel academically, it is the first impression that counts, be they in an interview for a job, or upon seeing a patient. The strength of character is just as important, as they would need to have the desire for lifelong learning, to be compassion, and to have the empathy in dealing with customers or patients in the future.

In representing the USM Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Nurzalina further said that the event could assist in the students’ journey to become healthcare professionals. The field of pharmacy is constantly evolving and an event such as this could provide valuable insights and guidance into areas of healthcare, science and patient care.

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She then said, involvement in the pharmacy field is not only about dispensing medicine; it is about improving lives, enhancing patient outcomes and contributing to the wellbeing of communities, regardless of where you may serve. As long as they continue to have the core values of the profession, namely integrity, empathy and commitment to excellence, they would surely be able to make a positive impact in the lives of whom they serve.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony was later held between the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and HeyDOC, with Nurzalina representing the School and HeyDOC being represented by Christina Oui Hui Che.

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Held at Dewan Budaya USM, the ‘Pharmacy Career Day and Talent Recruitment Drive Event’ include collaborators from the pharmaceutical industry and companies such as Alpro, HTM, Nova, Guardian, Hovid, PMG, Duopharma, Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild and the Ministry of Health Malaysia (KKM).

The one-day programme also held different talk sessions from 10 different speakers, each one focusing on their area of expertise, in addition to having a few booths set up at the foyer of Dewan Budaya for the participants to view the various products and services offered by the respective companies involved.

Text: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md Isa

USM SEDIA 10 MESIN AED BANTU PESAKIT SERANGAN JANTUNG SECARA MENGEJUT

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PULAU PINANG, 25 April 2024 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) menyediakan sejumlah 10 mesin Defibrilasi Luaran Automatik (Automated External Defibrilator – AED) untuk ditempatkan di setiap kampus yang berfungsi bagi membantu pesakit yang mengalami serangan jantung secara mengejut.

Peruntukan yang menelan belanja sejumlah RM80,000 bagi pembelian mesin ini akan ditempatkan di kampus induk sebanyak 7 buah manakala selebihnya masing-masing sebuah di Kampus Kejuruteraan, Institut Perubatan dan Pergigian Termaju (IPPT) dan Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM).

Naib Canselor Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Prof. Dato’ Seri Ir. Dr. Abdul Rahman Mohamed berkata, inisiatif ini yang disediakan melalui Pusat Sejahtera USM adalah bagi memastikan kemudahan rawatan kecemasan universiti sentiasa berada dalam ketersediaan terbaik selain memupuk amalan penjagaan kesihatan berlandaskan pencegahan, serta meningkatkan kesedaran tentang mendapatkan rawatan perubatan awal kepada warga USM.

Jelas beliau, universiti sentiasa mengutamakan kesejahteraan kesihatan warga USM kerana persediaan fasiliti seperti mesin AED ini dilihat penting dengan situasi persekitaran kesihatan masa kini yang memungkinkan individu berisiko serangan jantung secara mengejut di kampus.

"Pelbagai peruntukan skim perubatan telah diusahakan oleh USM bagi menambahbaik perkhidmatan perubatan buat warga USM antaranya menambahbaik Pusat Saringan Demam (Fever Centre) di Pusat Sejahtera dan juga pelaksanaan saringan kesihatan bagi warga USM yang melebihi umur 40 tahun termasuk program I Fit and Eat Right (IFitEr) bagi mereka yang mempunyai BMI melebihi 25," ucap beliau ketika merasmikan Sambutan Hari Kesihatan Sedunia 2024 peringkat Universiti Sains Malaysia di Dewan Pembangunan Siswa 1, Kompleks Cahaya Siswa, USM.

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Tambah Abdul Rahman lagi, berdasarkan rekod statistik masalah kesihatan di kalangan staf mahupun pelajar USM semakin meningkat saban tahun terutamanya penyakit jantung, buah pinggang dan kanser.

"Nasihat saya untuk warga USM, lakukanlah ujian saringan kesihatan secara berkala seperti yang dinasihatkan pakar perubatan supaya pencegahan awal dapat dilakukan.

"Ini juga dapat membantu mengelakkan kos rawatan yang lebih tinggi jika tidak diambil tindakan awal pencegahan penyakit-penyakit kritikal," tambah Abdul Rahman.

Di majlis yang sama, Pengarah Pusat Sejahtera USM, Dr. Ahmad Zaimi Abdul Latif berkata, mesin-mesin AED ini akan diletakkan di beberapa buah PTJ yang banyak terdedah kepada risiko serangan jantung mengejut.

"Antara lokasi yang kita tempatkan adalah di Pusat Sukan dan Rekreasi USM, Stadium Tan Sri Azman Hashim, padang KOPA USM, Pejabat Naib Canselor dan beberapa lagi lokasi sesuai selain di Pusat Sejahtera sendiri, kata beliau.

Sambutan tersebut turut dimeriahkan dengan acara senamrobik bersama Coach Alia, ujian saringan kesihatan, suntikan vaksin Human Papillomavirus (HPV) secara percuma dan ceramah kesihatan bertajuk "Cegah Sebelum Parah" oleh pakar Nefrologi dan Perubatan Dalaman Hospital Putrajaya, Dr. Rafidah Abdullah.

Turut hadir adalah Timbalan Naib Canselor Hal Ehwal Pembangunan Pelajar dan Alumni, USM, Prof. Dr. Shaharum Shamsuddin.

Teks: Mohd Azrul Mohd Azhar | Foto: Shahnizam Ab Rahim

USM STUDENTS AND ACADEMICS TRIUMPH AT SUSTAINABLE ANTARCTICA COMPETITION 2024

BANGI, 16 May 2024 - A group of students from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has once again demonstrated its excellence in implementing environmental and sustainability initiatives, and aligning closely with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 10th Malaysian International Seminar on Antarctica with the theme “Polar Research for Sustainability & Planetary Health” was organised from 14 - 16 May 2024 at Bangi Resort Hotel in Bangi, Selangor, where it was officiated by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, the Patron of the Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation (YPASM).

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The USM students who participated in The Sustainable Antarctica Competition 2024 - TikTok Creative Video Competition that was held in conjunction with the seminar had achieved outstanding success. Competing amongst 150 participants, they won multiple top awards, showcasing their creativity and commitment to sustainability.

Lee Ling Hui, a second-year student from the Bioresource Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, USM won the Grand Prize with her winning video.

Phang Khang Wei, a third-year student from the Food Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, USM secured the Second Prize.

Chin Pei Yi, also a third-year student from the Food Technology Division, won a Consolation Prize.

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The team of Nadiah Mohammad Yusof and Nur Arni Sabrina Azmin, both fourth-year students from the School of Biological Sciences, also won another Consolation Prize.

Meanwhile, a student from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Ahmad Adam Osman Nurhazli won the "Most Liked Video" category.

The awards were presented by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES), Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad during the seminar.

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Other notable achievements by USM extended beyond the video competition.

Jiei Kobe from the Environmental Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, USM, secured the First Prize for ‘Best Oral Presentation’ with his final-year project titled "Mercury Reduction by Micrococcus sp. Isolated from Signy Island, Antarctica."

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This research is a collaborative effort between USM and the British Antarctic Survey, supervised by Associate Professor Dr. Japareng Lalung and Professor Dr. Peter Convey. The project aligns with SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land) by addressing the impact of mercury pollution on ecosystems.

Adding to the accolades, Associate Professor Dr. Yusri Yusup from the Environmental Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, USM, was announced as a recipient of the YPASM grant worth RM130,000 for his project titled “Enhancing Understanding of Antarctic Atmospheric Processes and their Teleconnection to the Monsoons in the Strait of Malacca, Malaysia through Comprehensive Data Management.”

The award was presented to him by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu. This project supports SDG 13 (Climate Action) by enhancing understanding of climate processes and their effects.

Both the Sustainable Antarctica Competition 2024 and the 10th Malaysian International Seminar on Antarctica provided a significant platform for highlighting innovative research and creative approaches aimed at promoting sustainability and planetary health.

The remarkable achievements by USM underscore its dedication to environmental stewardship and its leadership in education and research on sustainability and contributing to various SDGs, including SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water), and SDG 15 (Life on Land).

For more details about the competition, visit Sustainable Antarctica Competition 2024. To learn more about the seminar, visit 10th Malaysian International Seminar on Antarctica.

Text: Associate Professor Dr. Japareng Lalung (School of Industrial Technology, USM)/Editing: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin


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