Faces of A*STAR

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Dr Sherry Aw

A*STAR Dr Sherry Aw

1) Tell us about what you do at A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), especially about your focus on diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

I study neurodegeneration using a less complex animal, the fruit fly. Despite having a small brain (with a million times fewer neurons than humans), the fly carries out many complex behaviours guided by its nervous system. In the fly, just like in humans, brain cells die with age, and mutations in conserved genes that are known to cause neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease, also cause brain cell death, tremors, short lifespan and walking defects in flies. I carry out experiments to determine what happens in the cells to cause these defects, in order to help us understand how disease develops and progresses in humans. The hope is to apply what we learn towards new clinical therapies in future.

2) What is/ are your motivations for getting into this field of research?

Science is fascinating! I love the fact that I'm constantly learning and discovering new things, and occasionally, when the stars align, see or understand for the first time something that no one else knew before. I enjoy the work and derive great satisfaction from it, both in terms of the day to day work, as well as the potential long term prospects of our work.

I am interested in neurodegeneration, in particular, from a curiosity perspective, and also because these diseases have growing impact in our aging societies.

A*STAR Dr Sherry Aw and family

3) What does the 'Great Women of Our Time' award mean to you, and also to women in Science & Tech?

It is a great honour, and I would like to thank Womens’ Weekly and other organisations, including the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards, for spotlighting women in science. Awards such as these have given us a platform to share our work, which women tend to shy away from doing. Such awards allow young girls and women interested in science to visualize science as a career for themselves.

4) What are your favourite past times outside of work?

I have two children and we try to spend our weekends doing activities together as a family, e.g. going swimming, biking in the park or doing puzzles. I also handmake jewelry and try to catch up with friends.


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