Monthly Archives: December 2011

From Thailand! The transformation of a clinician into a researcher

This fabulous story comes from Dr. Myo Nyein Aung a clinical researcher who worked at the Bangkok School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand. Here Dr. Aung describes how he developed his research ideas and write-up as a manuscript Observation of genotype C infected chronic hepatitis B patients in clinical practice which is now published in the December 2011 Issue of JIDC.  

I love this story. It highlights the importance of scientific organization of research data as well as the value of presenting your work to your peers.  By formulating your own data for presentations it forces one to view their work from other perspectives, including as a reviewer. This view-point can lead to new developments in the thesis and paths to follow. 

Thank you so much Dr. Myo Aung for sharing your story.


The brief story of clinical research at Trop-Med, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

Writing this paper for the JIDC reminded me of my times at the School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok. This was the place and time where I was transformed into a clinical researcher.

Building a Story!

I still remember my advisor asking me to make PowerPoint presentations of the longitudinal data of all the cases I had worked on. To plot everything—viral load, ALT, AFP and genotype—in a single slide for all cases was not an easy job. It took me one week. Finally, after a Monday clinic, we met to view and discuss the slides together. During the discussion, many topics were covered. This was where I thought of the idea for my research article that is now published in JIDC.  It was during that discussion!

My adviser Associate Professor Dr. Wattana Leowattana while I am defending my thesis

What was my Research Question? – The Search

Every Monday I would go to the liver clinic at Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Bangkok. It was a very special clinic with many hepatitis B and C patients. Here I searched for my research question by reading many up-to-date articles and seeing patients every week. Many areas were interesting to explore in the clinical research of hepatitis B.  It took me almost one year to get the research question. 

Building the Story – I didn’t do it alone!

I did not collect the data in the patient’s record charts all myself. I had two research assistants who could speak English as well as I spoke Thai.  They were very helpful. With their assistance, we scanned hundreds of chronic hepatitis B medical charts to screen the eligibility criteria. We explored the old archived laboratory records to get the very first viral load of the patients. We faced many kinds of challenges to accomplish this research. Importantly, this work began my training for international collaborations and dealing with study site hospitals. Research in clinical practice taught me far more than that I learned in epidemiology and research methodology classes.

2008-2009 batch students of MSc and PhD tropical medicine international class , at the Wai Khru Day ceremony of Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand

All the ideas were overwhelming at the time of writing the protocol and paper. The balance of ideas and feasibility would determine how quickly we could do research and how well it could be accomplished. My advisors and I were strict on eligibility criteria. The samples were difficult to collect. Time was limited. Funds were gone. I had to defend my thesis. I had to write my manuscript.

The Finished Manuscript

My paper describes  genotype C chronic hepatitis B as we see and treat the patients at the hepatitis clinic every follow-up. Moreover, I wanted to point out the carcinogenic potential of the most prevalent genotype in Thailand. We worked out many of the caveats including adjusting for sample size.  A scientifically sound hypothesis was generated. There were many cycles of rejections and resubmissions, reanalysis and amendment. Finally I could present my ideas and my work through the Journal of Infection in Developing Countries. Thank you, JIDC.

With my same batch and junior class mates at JITMM, Joint International Tropical Medicine Meeting, 2009: Molecular scientists (ladies) and clinical researchers ( gentle men)


Dr. Myo Nyein Aung

Dr. Myo Nyein Aung

My name is Dr. Myo Nyein Aung.
I am a Myanmar doctor. I was born in Magway, a central city in Myanmar.
I studied for my MD at Mandalay, second capital of Myanmar.
I was taught to be a clinical researcher at Bangkok School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand. This paper is the third paper I could publish within six months of my research-based Master. My JIDC blog post is about the idea generation and process of doing my research at School of Tropical Medicine. Currently, I am working as international collaborative researcher, author, reviewer and editorial in medical journals.

Happy New Year 2009 at Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand


Filed under Countries, Hepatitis, Thailand, Uncategorized

“Dig A Little Deeper!” — Lessons from Disney

Every Monday morning, we have a lab meeting/journal club.  The PhD students take turns delivering a  presentation each week. The presentations  alternate weekly between discussing a paper and a review of the PhD student’s progress on his or her project.  Before the formal meeting begins, we have a round table for short up-dates of the non-presenting students’ projects.

This week, the student  did an excellent job as he up-dated us on the current state of his project.  He had previously reported a result that we had thought we had fully analyzed – but that was not all to the story.  After reading additional published papers, this student went on to provide an alternative analysis and hypothesis for the result. 

I was very excited and interested to hear about this new perspective.  I was also happy to see students “thinking outside the box” – that is, not just accepting the first hypothesis that seemed reasonable and then moving on without questioning the current thinking.

This incident reminded me of my two daughters’ favourite Disney song,  Dig A Little Deeper. Mama Odie sings this song in the Princess and the Frog movie.


I think digging a little deeper is a good message – not just for students but for all researchers.  Dig a little deeper to find what you are looking for – dig deeper into your project.  Look harder at your results for points that may have been missed.   Research the literature harder and make sure you know the subject area in and out.  Dig A Little Deeper.

I have been humming this song to myself all week, with a little smile on my face!


Filed under Science Thoughts

ReR – MedToday!

Today’s postcard comes from ReR-MedToday!  ReR-MedToday!  is a German based charity that serves to aid families battling rare childhood illnesses by  raising funds and gaining medical information.  The important objectives of this organization are headed by Remigiusz Eryk Raitza and have already made a difference in the lives of many people. Thanks Remi for sharing your work with us!


About ReR – MedToday!

Memento te hominem esse. – Remember that you are human.

What is ReR – MedToday!ReR – MedToday! is a not-for-profit project initated in Germany.  The objective of ReR – MedToday! is to suport families affected by pediatric cancer as well as infectious and rare diseases in children. Specifically, we provide patient education and medical information for researchers and medical students and practitioners.
 ReR – MedToday! supports local families, disadvantaged adolescents and conducts online charity auctions with the friendly assistance of the registered association Schalke hilft!.

Remigiusz Eryk Raitza, founder and project manager, is currently a medical student.  He uses his professional training to provide information to families in need.  He also supports families affected by pediatric illnesses and connects them with important resources to help them find the right  treatments or even just to cope with the problems and stress affect their daily lives as they deal with a sick child.

Most orphan diseases are genetic in origin. Many rare diseases appear early in life, and about 30 percent of children with rare diseases will die before reaching their fifth birthday. Knowledge exchange is most important in these cases to improve living conditions and to prolong life. This is one of Raitza‘s most important goals. Accordingly, collaborations are important when dealing with rare diseases! We provide support for local and international families, who can connect and share their stories to support and learn from each other. Therefore, we seek international collaborations to further help affected families connect with important resources.

Special Project of ReR – MedToday – Drake Current: Drake Current, a three-year with the Dravet syndrome, is one of ReR – MedToday!‘s special cases.   Dravet syndrome is a rare childhood-onset epilepsy. Children and teenagers are the most vulnerable groups to this disorder. Normally we keep all data regarding the families we help confidential, but Drake’s parents felt it was important to bring attention to this little-known disorder and therefore  were kind enough to give us permission to share this story. Drake’s story highlights the importance of acquiring knowledge and connecting with experts when dealing with rare diseases.

Everything changed for Drake‘s family in January 2009 when the nine-month-old infant suffered his first seizure. Eventually, Drake, who was born in April 2008, spent a full month in the hospital, coming home three days before his first birthday without a diagnosis. The family battled the seizures constantly for another 15 months. ReR – MedToday! advised the family and discussed his ailment with his dad. We forwarded anonymously the details of his case and his symptoms to physicians and specialists in Germany. During this time, Drake‘s development was clearly being affected. He was developmentally delayed about a year in receptive and expressive language as well as gross and fine motor skills, and he was not maturing.

ReR – MedToday! proposed a genetic test after his dad contacted us again. The results revealed that Drake has Dravet Syndrome, a rare, severe and malignant form of myoclonic epilepsy. Although Drake’s parents know that their beloved son will never outgrow this illness, the diagnosis finally allowed them to be able to deal with it.
In addition to aiding with the Dravet diagnosis, ReR – MedToday! recommended the 4 Paws For Ability program, for Drake, which provides specially trained dogs to help families cope with disabilities and illness. We raised funds to purchase a special dog named Sushi, which joined the family on December 10, 2010. Sushi is able to detect the onset of Drake’s seizures before they occur and alert his parents.

Drake’s story is just one example of the work we conduct at ReR – MedToday!

The basic lesson we must take away from our quality of life is that we must act responsibly towards ourselves and others. Anyone can help make the world a better place simply by providing faith, hope, a listening ear, security, and understanding!

Current Project:  Currently we are building a skilled team that can ensure the proper answers to general and specific medical questions from all medical disciplines. We are expanding our internet presence by developing a bilingual web siteto reach wider audiences.
JIDC is one of the leading resources we may benefit from. I am grateful for this unique chance to spread the word about ReR – MedToday!,through the JIDC blog.
My work on the ReR – MedToday!  web site as a scientific author will also focus on information about infectious diseases in developing countries to instruct national professionals and to teach patients or tourists. At ReR – MedToday! we strive for competence, knowledge to provide free online information resources.

Want to collaborate with ReR – MedToday!?: All science readers, scientific bloggers or scientists, are invited to post guest contributions in English or German at ReR – MedToday!. An example can be seen in our former collaboration with the internet radio station for handicapped people and their barrier-free friends „Radio4Handicaps“ (R4H).

About Remigiusz Eryk Raitza: Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Remigiusz Eryk Raitza.
I was born on 17 May 1978, in Kattowitz (Poland), raised in Hanover (Lower Saxony), and moved to the Ruhr district, the largest urban area in Germany, in North Rhine-Westphalia. During 2010, the Ruhr region was one of the European Capitals of Culture.
After my university-entrance diploma I worked as an orderly for about two years. Before I started studying I had completed military service as a medical corps soldier.

As a former soccer player of „FC Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04 e. V.“, „Sportgemeinschaft 09 Wattenscheid e. V.“ and medical student, I want to give something back to the community. I developed the idea for my not-for-profit project during my medical studies in Giessen (Hesse) at the Justus Liebig University and founded ReR – MedToday! in 2007. ReR – MedToday! is located in Recklinghausen-Essel (in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region). My charity is also dedicated to my former fellow student Geert Steffens, who left us tragically too soon.

Besides patient counselling without commitment, I also bring honorary complementary assistance and consulting in networking with my IT services R2Z (Ruhr area 2.0) to fundraisers, nonprofit organizations (NPO) and third parties. Data protection means trust so all information remains confidential unless otherwise agreed upon.

Since the year 2001 I have supported the global program for monitoring emerging diseases, ProMEDmail, of the International Society for Infectious diseases (ISID). ISID is committed to the control of infectious diseases around the world and to improving the care of patients with infectious diseases.

Contact ReR – MedToday: If you have any questions, please contact me by e-mail. Further informationcan also be found on our homepage, .

The latest research is our passion. Join the conversation!.

ReR – MedToday is a „thank you“ to everyone who is commited to helping others. Be an inspiration and a model likewise!

Stay healthy!

Yours sincerely,
Remigiusz E. Raitza.


Remigiusz Eryk Raitza

ReR – MedToday!
Heinrich-Imig-Str. 7
45665 Recklinghausen

Tel: 011-49 176 70862363
Fax: 011-49 2361 5822413



Filed under Countries, Germany, Postcards