Talented NUS scientists join prestigious EMBO Global Investigator Network

Assistant Professor Dennis Kappei from the Department of Biochemistry at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) and the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore at NUS, together with Adjunct Assistant Professor Chen Jinmiao from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at NUS Medicine, are among 10 international researchers selected to join the fifth intake of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Global Investigators Network.

Launched in 2019, this programme supports group leaders with an excellent scientific track record and who have been leading their own research group for no more than six years.

Asst Prof Kappei’s research focuses on telomeres, the ends of linear chromosomes, which in healthy tissue limit how often cells can divide and prevent fusions between different chromosomes. To study what happens when these processes go haywire, his research group leverages on their expertise in quantitative mass spectrometry to analyse changes in the protein composition of telomeres upon induction of various genomic insults. Overall, this work aims to further understanding of how tumours emerge and maintain their unlimited proliferative potential.

Asst Prof Kappei said, “Especially as an European who has found a home away from home, being an EMBO Global Investigator is a great honour and a fantastic opportunity to connect with this impressive community.”

Adj Asst Prof Chen’s research harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse single-cell and spatial omics for precision immunology. As a computational biologist with background in spatial and single-cell omics analysis and AI, she studies precision immunology to investigate the intricate details of the immune system at a personalised level. She works closely with her team to leverage AI to analyse the microenvironment of tumour cells to understand their heterogeneity, with the goal of advancing the development of therapeutics that can effectively target the malignant cells within the tumour.

Articulating her vision, Adj Asst Prof Chen said, “I aim to bring AI and immunology together to create an AI for Immunology (AI2) network in Singapore.”

EMBO is an international organisation of life scientists and directs funding from member states towards research fellowships, courses, workshops, conferences, and science policy initiatives. Over a period of four years, EMBO Global Investigators will receive funding to support them in building and expanding their network and research portfolios, as well as establishing collaborations with scientists in their region and in Europe. They will also join a growing international network of more than 700 current and former EMBO Global Investigators, Installation Grantees, and Young Investigators.