Academic Research

Members of the Academic Team in RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus are highly committed to improving healthcare through advances in each of their areas of specialty. For more information on their fields of study, please contact our academics. Their contact details are available here.

Family Medicine

The Family Medicine Department’s primary research interest is in the areas of medical education (jointly with other departments) and community surveys. Research in the following areas have either been recently completed or ongoing: Communication skills teaching assessment, Role of simulated patients, Impact of Palliative Care curriculum, Perceptions of medical students towards General Practice, Medical Professionalism, Acute emergency teaching using advanced patient simulator, Competence in practical skills, Survey of depression, anxiety and stress amongst high school and undergraduate students. The department plans to embark on research on general practitioners’ utilization of guidelines for depression.


In the past, the department had led a sizable study on antenatal depression, an evaluation of psychiatric consultation service at government primary care health clinics, and clinical audit of health parameter monitoring among patients on antipsychotics at Hospital Pulau Pinang. In addition to clinical studies, the department has conducted qualitative studies on medical student experiences and recruitment into psychiatry.
Based on the departmental and institutional expertise, we aim to continue and expand our research endeavors in the following areas:

  1. Prof. Vincent Russell (Head of Department, 2012-2015) brought the psychiatry – general practitioner shared care model from Canada, establishing the only ongoing clinical partnership in government health clinics in Malaysia. The service has since been expanded under the leadership of Prof. Finian O’Brien (Head of Department, 2015-2020). To further promote this successful healthcare model across the country, objective information on its societal benefits must be obtained. We are continuing the pursuit on accumulating qualitative and quantitative evidence to support this collaborative practice approach.
  2. RUMC is the coordinating site for Cochrane Malaysia. The launch of Cochrane Global Mental Health has provided an exciting platform for enhancement of evidence-based support for mental healthcare professionals. With the expertise of our Cochrane members, we aim to work together in strengthening our outputs on psychopharmacology and psychotherapeutic research.
  3. Neuroscience and neurodegeneration research remain the final frontiers of medical research. We are in collaboration with multiple centres to: i) decipher neurovascular dysfunction as an early culprit of dementing disorders and later-life depression; ii) examine the efficacy of neurostimulation in the treatment of behavioural symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders.
  4. Previous studies have shown that Malaysia has a shortage of psychiatrists. The majority of students entering medical schools would not consider psychiatry as their eventual career. Many even have mythical and inaccurate perceptions towards the specialty. We have been conducting surveys in Asian medical schools to examine students’ experiences, with the ultimate goals in optimizing the undergraduate psychiatry curriculum and heightening of recruitment into postgraduate clinical training for the specialty.

The Paediatrics Department currently holds two major research grants obtained from competitive funding sources, one from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (the TOCAT study, a randomised controlled trial) and one Australian NMHRC grant (SEA URCHIN Project, an interrupted time series study of getting evidence into practice). In addition they also have a strong research interest in conducting systematic reviews, currently authoring or maintaining 18 Cochrane systematic reviews and one Overview of systematic reviews. They also provide training in Cochrane Systematic Review authoring. In addition, over the past 5 years they have published a total of 26 peer reviewed articles, 3 invited commentaries and in addition presented 10 free papers or posters at International Meetings. The Professor is a journal editor for PLoS One.

Obstetrics & Gynaecology

The O&G Department is involved in research projects with the collaboration of our colleagues in the Penang General Hospital.

Our interest in Obstetrics is mainly in the area of gestational diabetes mellitus and also pre-existing diabetes mellitus in pregnancy. We are also involved in the field of ultrasound in pre-natal diagnosis. We are also looking at incidence and long term effects of obstetric sphincter injury during delivery.

In gynaecology, our main area of interest is in the field of urogynaecology. This will include the treatment and management of urinary incontinence in both stress and overactive bladders. We are looking at our success of defect specific repair for both anterior and posterior compartment prolapse.


Our research is focused on the following areas:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): population-based epidemiology and risk factor study (collaboration with International BOLD Network, Imperial College London); detailed characterization of moderate-to-severe COPD patients including High-Resolution CT and genetic studies (collaboration with Asian Network of Obstructive Lung Disease, Seoul, Korea, & with Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland).

Diabetes Mellitus: Youth onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (ongoing nationwide study); effect of Vitamin D replacement on glucose metabolism in women with former gestational diabetes; prevalence of diabetes and glucose intolerance in Malaysia including study of their risk factors between urban and rural population and in those with metabolic syndrome (nationwide study); HbA1C for diagnostic usefulness.

Public Health

The department of public health medicine in RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus is very active in research, especially those related to elderly and rural health. The department collaborates actively with the Penang state government. Among the collaborations include conducting research on the elderly in Penang to ascertain the needs, both social and health, and the health status, especially the mental health status of its geriatric population. The department is also in collaboration with the Penang Government and the Ministry of Health Malaysia in its initiative in making Penang ‘tobacco smoke free’.