JUSTL participant: Dr Raymond Kwan Keung Leung
Dr Raymond Kwan Keung Leung has just started his Senior Residency training in Psychiatry in Tai Po Hospital. He obtained his PhD degree in 2010 from the Department of Physiology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong under the supervision of Prof Po Sing Leung, where he investigated the effect of hyperglycemia on the expression of the angiotensin II type 1 receptor and on the secretion of insulin in pancreatic β-cells. In addition, he demonstrated that the angiotensin II type 2 receptor regulates pancreatic endocrine cell development using a human stem cell model. After finishing his PhD, Dr Leung decided to continue his education and he started medical school, again at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He finished his basic medical degree in 2015, and followed this with a year of internship training in different specialties, after which he started 3 years junior training in Psychiatry.
During the three years of his Senior Residency, Dr Leung will be specialising in General Adult Psychiatry, treating people between the ages of 18 to 65 years. He first experienced psychiatry during his 4th year of medical school when he had a 2-month attachment in a mental health hospital. He realised at that point that many of the patients had fewer opportunities to get good medical care such that when they described physical complaints, these were assumed to have been fabricated due to their mental disabilities. Dr Leung described these people as being under-privileged in the medical system and, wanting to make a difference and help them, he decided to specialise in psychiatry. Dr Leung also believes that in psychiatry, there is a greater capacity for research especially with regards to understanding the disorders and for developing new treatments and therapies.
Dr Leung participated in the 2008 JUSTL programme. He was mentored by one of the JUSTL Co-directors, Dr Karen Crawford (St. Mary’s College of Maryland), and he worked with her on a project investigating different aspects of the development of the long-finned squid, Doryteuthis pealei. Dr Leung commented that the JUSTL programme gave him a unique opportunity to conduct scientific research and try new techniques without the stress experienced by most if not all graduate students of having to collect publication quality data. In his end-of-programme report, Dr Leung described Dr Crawford as being “a passionate scientist, an energetic teacher and a good friend. She taught me how I should enjoy life with science.” He also said that: “The MBL….is a great platform for knowledge interflow” and “I start to understand why so many worldwide scientists move to Woods Hole every [summer]; it is an amazing place for sharing science.” Dr Leung said that during his two months at the MBL, he got to make friends not just with the other JUSTL participants but also with some of the local students. Indeed, one American student who they became friends with, subsequently came to Hong Kong and was an exchange student at The Chinese University of Hong Kong for several months.
When I asked Dr Leung if participating in the JUSTL programme helped to shape his career, he replied definitely yes. He told me: “I remember one day in the JUSTL programme I was struggling to decide whether to go to medical school or to continue my life doing research as a post-doc. I wanted to have a more clinical approach to my research. I talked about this with Karen [Crawford] and she told me to imagine what I wanted to be doing in 10 years’ time. That was the time that I realized that I really wanted to become a medical doctor.” Dr Leung has not completely discounted working in research again though. He mentioned that given the opportunity, and given his experience in psychiatry, at some point he would be interested in conducting research in the field of neuroscience.
Dr Leung finished by telling me that having the chance to spend two months away from Hong Kong at the MBL and interacting with scientists from all over the world gave him a lot of ideas and allowed him to take a step back to think about what he wanted to do with his life.