BSc(Hons), PhD (Otago)
Dr Htin Lin Aung’s work on drug-resistant tuberculosis in his homeland of Myanmar is connected in more ways than one to his study at the University of Otago.
Htin came to Dunedin to study at the University in 2001, beginning with Foundation Year, which prepared him for his Bachelor of Science in Genetics. After working some years as a research technician, he returned to Otago to undertake a PhD in Microbiology.
“I’m a true University of Otago product.”
Today, he is leading an international team researching drug resistant tuberculosis in Myanmar, funded by the New Zealand Government’s Health Research Council, aiming to perfectly diagnose patients with resistance to tuberculosis drugs using next generation technology.
In 2015 he was awarded a New Zealand-ASEAN award by the New Zealand Government for significantly contributing to relationships with the Southeast Asia region.
“In my opinion you don’t just come here to study or learn. You come here most importantly to live. I would say that my experience at Otago gave me a chance to discover myself and choose my own direction in life.”
Htin always wanted to contribute back to his home country, and selected the health sector as his way of doing so.
“I chose to study tuberculosis because Myanmar is one of the many high TB prevalent countries, and, more importantly, one of the 27 high drug resistant TB prevalent countries.
“I discovered myself through studying at Otago and I discovered what I wanted to do.”
The people of Dunedin and the University supported him, he adds.
“When I first arrived here in 2001, I was the only child in my family and I had never lived away from home. So when I arrived I felt homesickness. But people here in Dunedin are very friendly and welcoming, so Dunedin quickly became my home away from home.”
Some of Htin’s best memories include his time at Cumberland College, a residential college he lived in first as a student and later as a residential assistant supporting other students.“Cumberland is a perfect place to learn how to live in a multi-cultural society, which is really important for my current work.”
Dunedin is also a perfect city for work/life balance, he notes. “Everything is so close by.” Htin jogs regularly and likes the smallness of the city, which allows him to choose a harbour, hill or botanic garden run in his lunch hour.
Only Otago could give him this, he believes. Just as only Otago has trained him and now supported him to contribute back to Myanmar.