Landmark graduate for unique international doctoral programme

03 Aug 2010 14:23:10.527

PA 203/10

A unique PhD programme allowing students to undertake supervised research in both Nottingham and Malaysia has produced its first graduate.

Mohd Fadzelly Abu Bakar has received his doctorate from the School of Biomedical Sciences — the first student to graduate from the innovative Malaysia Nottingham Doctoral Programme (MNDP).

The MNDP was launched by The University of Nottingham and the Malaysian Government in July 2006. Fadzelly began his PhD studies in January 2007, researching the anti-cancer properties of the indigenous fruits of Sabah, on Borneo island, Malaysia.

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While working as a lecturer at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Fadzelly spoke to villagers about the plants used locally to treat and prevent illness and disease. He decided to research the active elements of these for his PhD, one of the first to receive funding from the MNDP.

Fadzelly’s research has been so successful that it has resulted in three research papers and a book chapter. His work into one fruit in particular — the bambangan, or Mangifera pajang, a relative of the mango — is very promising. He intends to develop his results further as an independent academic and researcher. He returns to Malaysia at the end of July.

“I’ve really enjoyed researching my PhD in both the UK and Malaysia,” Fadzelly said. “New avenues of enquiry were suggested to me as part of the split site process, so it worked very well.

“I lived in Wollaton, Nottingham, from September 2008, and I found it easy to settle into the community. The support networks at The University of Nottingham are excellent, the Malaysian societies and families really welcomed me.”

Currently, there are 25 students conducting research on the programme. They were chosen from existing academic staff at the public universities in Malaysia and are being supported by scholarships awarded by the Malaysian Government.

Each scholar undertakes a project agreed by a supervisor in Nottingham and a co-supervisor in one of the Malaysian public universities, and spends an agreed portion of the total study time — typically 18 months — at Nottingham. The remaining 18 months of the scholarship period is spent at the student's home university in Malaysia.

“Fadzelly was highly motivated to make a success of this joint venture, and this, together with excellent support from his Malaysian supervisors, ensured a relatively straightforward supervisory role for me,” said Dr Jeff Fry, Fadzelly’s UK supervisor. “I was also fortunate in being able to enlist the support of Dr Kang Nee Ting at The University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNMC) as my 'local agent' to assist Fadzelly in his time in Malaysia. The research fitted nicely with ongoing collaboration with colleagues at UNMC, and I am hopeful that the contacts made during Fadzelly's PhD will enhance this ongoing research.”

Fadzelly also worked with Dr Fry’s co-supervisors — Dr Steven Burr in the UK and Professor Datin Dr Maryati Mohamed in Malaysia.

The nine Malaysian universities taking part in the scheme are: Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi MARA and Universiti Utara Malaysia.

"This is a landmark in the relationship between Nottingham and the Malaysian public universities," said Vincenzo Raimo, Director of the International Office at The University of Nottingham. "This innovative split-site PhD programme has provided Malaysian students with the best of both worlds — the backing and support of their home university alongside the opportunity to broaden their research and gain an international perspective on their work.

"Fadzelly's work has been a real success story in Nottingham and Malaysia. We're looking forward to seeing more graduates of the highest calibre complete this programme and helping to build research collaboration between the University of Nottingham’s campuses in the UK and Malaysia and our partners in the Malaysian university public sector“

— Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.

The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives ( in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.

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  Tara De Cozar

Tara De Cozar - Internal Communications Manager

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