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Medical Convergence for a Healthier Future

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  • Registration Date : 2019-08-02
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Campus & Major

Medical Convergence for a Healthier Future

UST-Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (KIOM) Campus

2019 is the year in which traditional oriental medicine re-entered the global spotlight. National Geographic published a special report in its New Year issue on the innovations being born of convergence between traditional oriental medicine and technology. As modern medicine turns to traditional oriental medicine research, the students and faculty at the UST-Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (KIOM) are right at the forefront of this revolution.

KIOM Campus, Where Academic Fields Converge

KIOM is a government funded research institute for the scientific study of Korean traditional medicine. Its core missions are to investigate the efficacy and safety of oriental medicine, and develop new convergent medical technology using 4th industrial revolution technologies.

In line with KIOM’s research direction, the UST-KIOM Campus has established a ‘Korean Convergence Medicine’ major to train future medical professionals. The convergence of Korean traditional medicine with other disciplines requires exposure to a wide range of fields across the spectrum of the humanities and sciences. This is why all enrolled students have to take the two compulsory courses of ‘Introduction to Korean Medicine’ and ‘Research Methodology for Korean Medicine Life Science’.

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“Students get an introduction to biology, pharmacology, biomedical engineering and medical engineering, and experience the convergence of Korean oriental medicine with other disciplines,” says Professor-in-charge Lee Sang-hun. “Around the end of the course, we ask the students to design a convergent study combining 2-3 disciplines.” The aim is to get students to develop their own research methodology, and grow as transdisciplinary researchers.

After developing their own research methodologies, students proceed to build up their research careers, participating in actual projects under the guidance of their professors. Korean traditional medicine intrinsically involves close study of the human body. On top of that, students learn about the properties of testing devices, skills required for clinical research design, procedure for obtaining MFDS approval, and medical statistics, as they grow into full-fledged researchers themselves.

According to Professor Kim Jae-uk, “students get to participate in research in their chosen field between medical devices, medicinal products, and medical services,” and “theories such as basic statistics that are more difficult to pick up in the field can be learned through capacity building programs that we provide through partnerships with KAIST and Chungnam National University.” Here we can see the thoughtfulness and passion of the faculty at UST-KIOM in making sure that their students get a well-rounded education, from A to Z.

Transdisciplinary Talent Shaping A New Future

The UST-KIOM Campus is where transdisciplinary medical professionals are trained to lead the future of medicine. There are currently eleven students studying here, who come not only from Korea, but also Malaysia, Vietnam, Uganda and Indonesia. Their dreams are as diverse as their nationalities.

“I came to UST-KIOM to learn about how to mix medicinal herbs, that is, the principle of compounding in oriental medicine,” Nguyen from Vietnam says, “I want to research methods to make oriental medicine using natural ingredients, so as to help people living in regions with poor access to medication.”

“I studied traditional Chinese medicine for 10 years in China,” says student representative Kim So-young, “I hope to create a new field of research combining the knowledge I have already accumulated, as well as my current studies in Korean medicine, oriental medicine, future convergent medicine and healthcare policy.”

Bang Se-kwon, a medical engineering major, expressed his satisfaction with the campus culture, saying, “Medical engineering majors tend to fall into the trap of looking at research only from their field of study. Here, the professors and students share perspectives from a wide range of disciplines, from veterinary studies to physics. It’s great.”

Perhaps listening to the students reminded Representative Professor Choi Seon-mi of her own youth. She had these words of advice and encouragement for her students.

“Become a researcher with conviction, holding on to your dream and never losing patience. Keep challenging yourselves and your seeds will sprout, bearing fruit in the end. Also, keep asking questions, exploring and learning. I cheer you on in your journey of growth as a transdisciplinary researcher leading the future of medicine with innovative thinking.”