President's Award for eminent scientists

18 September 2015 | Research
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From left: Prof Chung; Prof Teh; Prof Tan; Asst Prof Tay; Prof Rozen; and Asst Prof Eda were honoured at this year's President's Science & Technology Awards (Photo: Agency for Science, Technology and Research)

Six exceptional NUS researchers were recognised for their contributions to research and technology at this year's prestigious President's Science & Technology Awards (PSTA). They received their awards during a dinner held on 16 September at Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre.

The PSTA are the highest scientific honours in Singapore which recognise exceptional individuals and teams for their achievements in science and technology, and acknowledge their outstanding contributions to the research and development landscape. The PSTA comprises the President's Science and Technology Medal, President's Science Award and President's Technology Award.

The NUS recipients were:

  1. President's Science Award – A team from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore (Duke-NUS) comprising Professor Patrick Tan who is also with the Genome Institute of Singapore; Professor Teh Bin Tean who holds an appointment with the National Cancer Centre Singapore and Professor Steven Rozen
  2. President's Technology Award – Professor Neal Chung, NUS Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
  3. Young Scientist Award – Assistant Professor Goki Eda, NUS Physics and Chemistry and Assistant Professor Yvonne Tay, NUS Biochemistry and the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore

Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam presented the awards to the PSTA recipients.

Managing Director of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Ex-Officio of the PSTA Main Selection Committee Professor Raj Thampuran commended the winners on their achievements. "These Awards epitomise Singapore's highest honours in science and technology and celebrate the exemplary contributions by our scientists and engineers…it also signifies a coming of age of our nation's scientific aspirations, he said.

The Duke-NUS team is credited with discovering new genes and molecular pathways in various Asian cancers. Using multidisciplinary and collaborative methods, their research over the past eight years has enabled the identification of novel targets for improved therapeutics and diagnostics focusing on four Asian malignancies ' stomach, biliary tract, urinary tract, and breast fibroepithelial tumours.

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President Tony Tan (2nd from left) presented the President's Science Award to (from left): Prof Tan, Prof Rozen and Prof Teh for their research on various types of Asian cancers (Photo: Agency for Science, Technology and Research)

The team has attracted close to $4 million in industry funding for research projects with pharmaceutical companies such as GSK, Bayer, and Principia Biopharma.

Prof Chung was recognised for his outstanding contributions to the field of membrane science. Developing numerous membrane technologies that have been adopted by the industry for clean water and energy applications, he has placed Singapore on the world map as a leading centre for water research. His achievements include co-creating a hollow fiber ultrafiltration membrane while leading the Research and Development team as a consultant to Hyflux. The product, which has since been commercialised worldwide, uses stringent filtration methods to remove contaminants from waters, safeguarding public health and improving sustainability.

Prof Chung had earlier received the Outstanding Researcher Award at this year's NUS University Awards. As further acknowledgement of his contributions, Lux Research USA ' a consulting firm providing strategic data on emerging technologies ' ranked NUS in 2013 as the global leader in water research, specifically citing Prof Chung's work on membranes.

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Prof Chung won the President's Technology Award for his outstanding work on membranes (Photo: Agency for Science, Technology and Research)

Mr S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry, presented the Young Scientist Award (YSA). The YSA, organised by the Singapore National Academy of Science and supported by A*STAR, recognises young researchers, aged 35 years and below, who have shown great potential to be world-class researchers in their field of expertise.

Asst Prof Eda was recognised for his pioneering work in the field of 2D materials ' crystalline, sheet-like materials only a few atoms thick. Since joining NUS in 2011, he has actively worked on both the fundamental and applied aspects of materials synthesis, characterisation and device fabrication, receiving more than 10,000 citations. He was also honoured at this year's University Awards, receiving the Young Researcher Award.

Asst Prof Tay's research focuses on novel interactions between different classes of RNA and how the dysregulation of these interactions can lead to cancer. Her work provides a greater understanding of microRNA functions and has been cited more than 3,700 times.

Read more on the award recipients.

See media coverage.

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