Academic Research

Research Overview

Members of the Academic Team in Penang Medical College are highly committed to improving healthcare through advances in each of their areas of specialty. For more information on their fields of study, please contact our academics. Their contact details are available here.

Family Medicine

Department of Family Medicine

The Family Medicine Department’s primary research interest is in the areas of medical education (jointly with other departments) and community surveys. Research in the following areas have either been recently completed or ongoing: Communication skills teaching assessment: Role of simulated patients, Impact of Palliative Care curriculum, Perceptions of medical students towards General Practice, Medical Professionalism, Acute emergency teaching using advanced patient simulator, Competence in practical skills, Survey of depression, anxiety and stress amongst high school and undergraduate students. The department plans to embark on research on general practitioners’ utilization of guidelines for depression.


Department of Psychiatry

Research activity is currently focused on two major themes:

a)      Research in Medical Education:

Here we have published and/or presented at international meetings over the past two years qualitative studies on cross-cultural awareness and the impact on student experience of community placements. Current projects include the assessment of the Learning Environment in collaboration with NUS, the impact of a promotional film on student recruitment in psychiatry and a qualitative study of student experiences of a support group for people with mental illness and their carers, in a local Mental Health NGO setting. A study on the impact on student learning resulting from psychiatry teaching in primary care is planned for 2014.

b)      Research in Clinical Service Delivery:

In this category our department is leading a large epidemiological study of antenatal depression in collaboration with PMC Dept. of Public Health and an evaluation of psychiatry consultation services for in primary care government Health Clinics in collaboration with the Clinical Research Centre and the State Health Dept.

We are currently carrying out a clinical audit of the monitoring of health parameters among patients maintained on anti-psychotic medication at the Dept. of Psychiatry, Hospital Pulau Pinang. We are planning a survey with our colleagues in PMC Dept. of Family Medicine on primary care clinician perceptions of the Malaysian Guidelines for Recognition & Management of Depression.


Department of Paediatrics

The Paediatrics Department currently holds two major research grants obtained from competitive funding sources, one from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (the TOCAT study, a randomised controlled trial) and one Australian NMHRC grant (SEA URCHIN Project, an interrupted time series study of getting evidence into practice). In addition they also have a strong research interest in conducting systematic reviews, currently authoring or maintaining 18 Cochrane systematic reviews and one Overview of systematic reviews. The also provide training in Cochrane Systematic Review authoring. In addition over the past 5 years they have published a total of 26 peer reviewed articles, 3 invited commentaries and in addition presented 10 free papers or posters at International Meetings. The Professor is a journal editor for PLoS One.

Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology

The O&G Department is involved in research projects with the collaboration of our colleagues in the Penang General Hospital.

Our interest in Obstetric field is mainly in the area of gestational diabetes mellitus and also pre-existing diabetes mellitus in pregnancy. We are also involved in the field of ultrasound in pre natal diagnosis. We are also looking at incidence and long term effect of obstetric sphincter injury during delivery.

In gynaecology, our main area of interest is in the field of urogynaecology. This will include the treatment and management of urinary incontinence both stress and overactive bladder. We are looking at our success of defect specific repair for both anterior and posterior compartment prolapse.


Department of Medicine

Our research is focused on the following areas:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): population-based epidemiology and risk factor study (collaboration with International BOLD Network, Imperial College London); detailed characterization of moderate-to-severe COPD patients including High-Resolution CT and genetic studies (collaboration with Asian Network of Obstructive Lung Disease, Seoul, Korea, & with Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland).

Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes and glucose intolerance in pregnancy (nationwide study); prevalence of diabetes and glucose intolerance in Malaysia including study of their risk factors between urban and rural population and in those with metabolic syndrome (nationwide study); HbA1C for diagnostic usefulness; study of diabetic education and its progress in developing countries (collaboration with Steno Diabetic Centre, Denmark).

Public Health

 Department of Public Health Medicine

The department of public health medicine in Penang Medical College is very active in research, especially research related to the elderly and rural health. The department collaborates actively with the Penang state government. Among the collaborations include conducting research on the elderly in Penang to ascertain the needs, both social and health needs, and the health status especially the mental health status of its geriatric population. The department is also in collaboration with the Penang Government and the Ministry of Health Malaysia in its initiative in making Penang ‘tobacco smoke free’.

Student Research

The first two and a half years of your training are spent at RCSI or UCD. RCSI and UCD are not only medical schools steeped in the tradition of producing world class doctors, they also produce ground breaking medical innovators and researchers. As a PMC student you are encouraged and supported to embrace independent learning and seek research opportunities as a supplement to the prescribed curriculum.

The modern clinician must have the required skills and tools to advance medical knowledge through research. To equip you with these skills, you will spend your formative medical training years in a world-class, research-focused academic environment. In this environment of self-directed learning, discovery and culture of enquiry curious and dedicated PMC students thrive.

Student Medical Journal

At RCSI, students are encouraged to become involved in the Student Medical Journal (RCSIsmj). Now in its seventh year, the journal provides a forum for RCSI student contributions to the field of medicine.

The journal publishes student research ranging from basic laboratory science and clinical work to humanities analyses of medicine in society. The goal of the RCSIsmj is to encourage student research, writing and submission for publication. The journal has a broad international readership which it reaches through print and electronic versions.

Student Research Programme

At UCD, PMC students have long been active and award-winning participants in the Student Summer Research Programme. The programme encourages, supports and rewards excellence in student research.

The programme provides you with the opportunity to undertake structured, voluntary research during the summer months, under the guidance and supervision of an academic or clinician. The programme is one of the highlights of the School calendar, and brings to life the School’s commitment to foster a passion for enquiry, discovery and investigative research.

Students undertake eight-week supervised laboratory or clinical-based projects in Ireland or overseas at one of our partner institutions. Students can also select projects with an approved charity or patient-advocate partner. Participation in these projects gives students an invaluable experience in the area of investigative medical science.

Participating in the research programme is consistent with the School’s ambition to produce not just exceptional healthcare practitioners, but life-long learners and world-class medical researchers. Each year eight finalists are selected from an entrant pool of more than 70 young clinical investigators with one student being awarded the UCD gold medal in student research.