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Impact 0084: Science for good

John Low · 11 August 2021
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John Low has spent nine years in the field of biological sciences. Inspired by Jurassic Park, he began his journey pursuing a diploma in molecular biotechnology, and later, a degree in life sciences at the National University of Singapore. 

After graduation, John joined the Singaporean team at Duke-NUS doing research on Zika and Dengue viruses. At 28, with the desire to help marginalised communities like the Rohingya community and migrant workers here in Singapore, he pursued a Masters in Medicine (MD) so that he can further improve on his ability to help people with their medical afflictions.

He shares five things he’s learnt:

1.
You don’t have to confine yourself to one track if you feel you haven’t explored what the world has to offer.

Even though I was inspired to go into science because of Jurassic Park, I also realised it was better to keep my options open because the world is so vast. There are so many things that could be waiting out there for me to explore. At the end of the day, I want to do something that I truly enjoy and would be beneficial to society.

2.
Sometimes we cannot see immediate effects or results in the things we are doing.

Even when I cannot see the results of the things I do, I believe that the work that has been done would be beneficial to research in the future. For example, our understanding of viruses and how to study vaccines gave us a good headstart when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

3.
If you want to do something you are passionate about, then it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there.

I did not get into medical school as an undergraduate. Even so, I still wanted to do something to help the marginalised. I took a detour to be where I am now, but the journey and everything I have done in between has helped me grow in my capacity to adapt fast to changes and to relate to people in different environments.

4.
Helping people is not being a knight in shining armour but being there as someone they can relate to.

You cannot help people without first having a connection with them. I learnt how to treat people with empathy and respect, and I understand that everyone should be treated with dignity. That way, you’re more likely to touch their hearts and lives more than whatever programme you’re running.

5.
Accepting your failures and celebrating others' victories.

I am not a perfect human and I am not a superhero. There are times when I will fail and times where others can do what I cannot. What keeps me moving forward is accepting my failures and learning from them, as well as celebrating others when they are successful in the things they do.

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