De­vel­op­ing Tal­ents for In­done­sia’s Life Sciences arena

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education Supplement -

Life sciences are an essen­tial and in­te­gral part of each so­ci­ety, in fact, they are di­rectly re­lated to cru­cial as­pects of our life, such as healthcare and food safety. To take just one con­crete ex­am­ple to il­lus­trate the im­por­tance of life sciences to our lives, let us dis­cuss pathogens. Through­out our lives, we are ex­posed to var­i­ous pathogens. Not long ago, a triv­ial bac­te­rial in­fec­tion would eas­ily turn into a deadly or highly de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­ease. Nowa­days, how­ever, a trip to the phar­macy could un­know­ingly de­ter us from death. A few gen­er­a­tions ago, life ex­pectancy was around 35 years. En­tire fam­i­lies were dec­i­mated by ba­nal dis­eases, in­clud­ing in­fluenza or bac­te­rial in­fec­tion.

Today, thanks to the ad­vance­ment in life sciences, the life ex­pectancy of hu­man be­ings has been ad­vanced dra­mat­i­cally, and we see many peo­ple live be­yond the age of 70. Med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy has reached a point where its ad­vance­ment al­lows many dis­eases to be treated, pro­long­ing the hu­man life span.

As well as pro­long­ing our life span, ad­vance­ments in life sciences have also ma­jorly con­trib­uted to im­prov­ing life qual­ity among hu­man be­ings. “For in­stance, if you get sick from a non-lifethreat­en­ing dis­ease, you might be likely get back on your feet within a short amount of time if you were prop­erly di­ag­nosed and treated,” said Mat­teo Morello, Di­rec­tor of Aca­demic Af­fairs, In­done­sia In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Life Sciences (i3L).

With­out the sci­en­tific con­tri­bu­tion of life sciences, the qual­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity of a na­tion’s whole work­force is af­fected. This is one of the rea­sons why the de­mand for grad­u­ates from this field,

Mat­teo Morello

who can work in a wide range of sec­tors, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to food safety, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, med­i­cal de­vices, di­ag­nos­tic and healthcare, is con­stantly in­creas­ing. Ad­vance­ments in life sciences can also help a na­tion to boost its eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“If as a na­tion you can pro­duce your own drugs, in­stead of im­port­ing them from other coun­tries, you can cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties and in the mean­time re­al­lo­cate what you save from buy­ing and im­port­ing drugs to other is­sues equally rel­e­vant to the so­ci­ety.” Morello said.

There is no doubt ev­ery coun­try should in­vest in ed­u­ca­tion if they want to lay solid foun­da­tions for re­search and de­vel­op­ment to thrive. How­ever, up to few years ago In­done­sian stu­dents that want to pur­sue a ca­reer in life sciences, for ex­am­ple within the Biomedicine or Bioin­for­mat­ics field, had no choice but to con­tinue their stud­ies abroad.

As an in­sti­tu­tion, i3L was es­tab­lished in 2012 to fill that gap, mean­ing lo­cal stu­dents no longer had to go over­seas to purse a de­gree in life sciences. The i3L cam­pus is lo­cated on Jl. Pu­lo­mas Barat, East Jakarta.

The in­sti­tute of­fers un­der­grad­u­ates pro­grams in En­trepreneur­ship, Bioin­for­mat­ics, Biomedicine, Biotechnology, Food Sci­ence, Food Tech­nol­ogy and Phar­macy, as well as a mas­ter level pro­gram in Bioman­age­ment. The i3L has cur­rently around 300 ac­tive stu­dents and about 30 lec­tur­ers, most of whom earned their Mas­ter’s or Doc­toral de­grees from over­seas uni­ver­si­ties, with an 80:20 ra­tio be­tween ex­pats and lo­cal lec­tur­ers. The univer­sity’s cur­ricu­lum places a heavy em­pha­sis on prac­ti­cal, real-life learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

“I can say that our stu­dents spend al­most 50 per­cent of their time, while in cam­pus, in the lab­o­ra­tory. Life sciences is a highly ap­plica­tive field. In or­der to thrive in this field, you must de­velop skills and com­pe­ten­cies through prac­tice” Morello said.

Aside from lab­o­ra­tory prac­tices fa­cil­i­tated by cut­ting-edge equip­ment and tech­nolo­gies, i3L stu­dents are also of­fered with a rich chance for in­tern­ships and ex­change pro­grams right from their first year of study­ing, giv­ing them fur­ther op­por­tu­nity to put their knowl­edge and skills to the test.

“Around 60 to 80 of our stu­dents have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced an in­ter­na­tional ex­change pro­gram,” Morello said, adding that i3L was co­op­er­at­ing with a num­ber of uni­ver­si­ties abroad, such as Bos­ton Univer­sity in the United States and Deakin Univer­sity in Aus­tralia.

Mean­while, for the in­tern­ship pro­grams, the in­sti­tute co­op­er­ates with in­sti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies such as Caro­lus Hos­pi­tal, Garu­daFood, Orang Tua, the Ei­jk­man In­sti­tute and many more. “By the time i3L’s stu­dents en­ter their third and fourth [aca­demic] year, the ma­jor­ity of their learn­ing process is based on case stud­ies and ap­plied re­search projects. Th­ese projects are vi­tal to help nur­ture crit­i­cal think­ing skills among stu­dents, help­ing them to an­a­lyze the com­plex­i­ties of a prob­lem in an ob­jec­tive man­ner,” Morello said.

Cour­tesy of In­done­sia In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Life Sciences (i3L)

JP/Arief Suhardi­man

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