I have had the privilege of working at COMBIEL during two important stages of my career. Once, as my very first official job in healthcare, when I was a 2nd year undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo. At the time, I started working on self-report questionnaires as a data collector. Soon enough, Dr. Liu and his team engaged me in 3 more projects, creating the opportunity to collaborate with medical students, residents, epidemiologists, and data scientists. This experience sparked my interest towards medicine.
Surprisingly, my experience at COMBIEL was not limited to my 4-month co-op semester. I was lucky enough to be among tens of students who continued their association with the lab through numerous COMBIEL mentors, including Dr. Liu himself. His continuous encouragement and support guided me through my undergraduate and graduate degree to eventually get admitted to the University of Toronto’s MD program five years later.
Concurrent with the first two years of MD program, I managed to obtain a Graduate Diploma in Health Research (GDipHR) under Dr. Liu’s supervision. Through this two-year program, despite the unexpected challenges of the pandemic, COMBIEL laboratory created numerous opportunities where I was empowered to investigate the role of natural language processing in cancer research. These two years were instrumental in solidifying my leadership skills while learning about data science and oncology. Being a student at COMBIEL for the past 9 years has been an excellent example of how a collegial learning environments could assist its members to grow continuously regardless of circumstances or time.