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Singapore - Four individuals and a team of four have been awarded this year’s President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA), the highest honours conferred upon research scientists and engineers in Singapore whose achievements in science and technology have resulted in significant economic or societal benefits for the country.

The PSTA 2018 consists of the following awards:

  • President’s Science and Technology Medals (PSTM) - Two recipients
  • President’s Science Award (PSA) - Two recipients
  • President’s Technology Award (PTA) - One recipient

The winners were picked by a distinguished panel of representatives from industry, academia and research.

This year, there were two PSTM recipients:

  • Professor Judith L. Swain, Visiting Professor, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS);
  • Professor Lam Khin Yong, Vice President (Research) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

There were also two PSA recipients this year:

  • An individual - Prof Loh Teck Peng, NTU Singapore;
  • A team consisting of Prof Tan Eng King, National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), Assoc Prof Lim Kah Leong, NUS, Prof Ng Huck Hui, Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), and Assoc Prof Louis Tan, NNI.

The PTA was awarded to Professor Stuart Cook from Duke-NUS Medical School and National Heart Centre Singapore.
The winners received their awards from President Halimah Yacob during a ceremony at Capella Singapore on 25 September 2018.

This is the tenth year that the PSTA is presented. Formerly known as the National Science and Technology Awards, the Awards were elevated to the status of the President’s awards in 2009 to highlight and give due recognition to the important role research scientists and engineers play in Singapore’s economic and societal development.

President’s Science and Technology Medals (PSTM) recipients

Raising Singapore’s international reputation in biomedical research through translational and clinical research

Professor Judith Swain receives the PSTM for her pivotal role in Singapore’s research and development. For over 15 years, she has held key positions in research institutes, universities, and hospitals. Amongst other things, Professor Swain oversaw the inception of Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO), a nationwide study on pregnancies and early childhood development that has shifted Singapore’s public health policy with key findings on gestational diabetes and its impact on children. She has also served on various governing boards and advisory committees in Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE), public healthcare system, medical schools, and Research Centres of Excellence.

Fostering closer collaborations between academia and industry

Professor Lam Khin Yong receives the PSTM as a lifelong advocate of research with impact. He has embodied this philosophy throughout the course of his illustrious career spanning more than three decades. His contributions and leadership in shaping the pool of local scientific talent, charting the strategic development of Singapore’s high-performance computing capabilities, and driving the University’s research efforts have been instrumental in advancing Singapore’s transformation as a knowledge economy and global hub of innovation.

President’s Science Award (PSA) recipients

Pushing the frontiers of synthetic and green chemistry

Professor Loh Teck Peng is recognised for his novel synthesis processes and outstanding scientific contributions towards cementing Singapore’s position as a leader in the field of chemistry. His creative and insightful research has resulted in technologies with disruptive impact on the biomedical and pharmaceutical industry. Over the last 20 years, Professor Loh has created dozens of innovative, practical and green methods that can produce synthetic compounds, placing him at the forefront of organic synthesis research.

Galvanising clinical research and transforming patient care in Parkinson’s disease

The team – comprising of Prof Tan Eng King, National Neuroscience Institute (NNI); Assoc Prof Lim Kah Leong, NUS; Prof Ng Huck Hui, Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS); and Assoc Prof Louis Tan, NNI – is recognised for their outstanding contributions in identifying clinical biomarkers, developing novel models and therapeutics for advancing the understanding and management of Parkinson’s disease (PD) over the last 5 years. Their research has facilitated partnerships with industry, clinical and research institutions, leading to enhanced healthcare policies that support improved clinical care for patients with PD in Singapore. The team’s work exemplifies the concept and significance of actualising ‘bench to bedside,” from research endeavours to clinical outcomes.

President’s Technology Award (PTA) recipient

Advancing research in human genetics and cardiovascular disease

Professor Stuart Cook is a leading cardiovascular research expert with extensive work in human genetics, heart muscle disease and cardiac imaging. At Duke-NUS and the National Heart Research Institute Singapore, Professor Cook heads a cross-disciplinary research team that seeks to identify new genes and pathways for heart disease, for better therapeutic targets. In 2012, Professor Cook and his collaborators discovered that mutations in titin, the biggest human gene, cause heart muscle weakness in Caucasian populations. Professor Cook went on to lead a genetic study in Singapore to find out whether mutations in the same gene are responsible for the illness in Asians as well. The titin mutation was found to be responsible for up to a quarter of cases in Singaporean-Asian populations. This discovery catalysed the development of a commercially-available, next-generation test kit. This test kit is used to screen many thousands of patients each year, for various gene mutations linked to inherited heart conditions, in laboratories around the world.

Young Scientist Awards (YSA)

Organised by the Singapore National Academy of Science and supported by A*STAR, the Young Scientist Awards (YSA) recognise the accomplishments of researchers under 35, and who have shown the potential to scale greater heights. The awards highlight the importance of investments in the country’s scientific talent pool.

This year, three outstanding young individuals were recognised with the YSA.

They are:

  • Dr Xue Shifeng, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR; for her research on gene regulation in developmental biology.
  • Dr Liu Zheng, NTU Singapore; for his research on the synthesis of two-dimensional materials;
  • Dr Anjan Soumyanarayanan, Institute of Materials Research & Engineering (IMRE), A*STAR; for his research in unveiling and tailoring emergent quantum phenomena towards scalable nanoelectronics;

They received their awards from Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance and Chairman of the National Research Foundation Singapore, at Capella Singapore on 25 September 2018.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Sunanthar Lu
Corporate Communications
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
DID: (65) 6517 1966
Email: sunanthar_lu@hq.a-star.edu.sg

Enclosed:

ANNEX A – List of PSTA winners
ANNEX B – Citations of PSTA winners
ANNEX C – List of YSA winners and information sheet on YSA
ANNEX D – Citations of YSA winners
ANNEX E – Fact sheet on PSTA selection committees

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology. Through open innovation, we collaborate with our partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit society.

As a Science and Technology Organisation, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability.

We play a key role in nurturing and developing a diversity of talent and leaders in our Agency and Research Institutes, the wider research community and industry. A*STAR’s R&D activities span biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering, with research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis.

A*STAR is the secretariat for the annual President’s Science and Technology Awards.

ANNEX A

LIST OF PSTA WINNERS

I. President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM)

Professor Judith L. Swain
Visiting Professor, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
Founding Executive Director (Emeritus), Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Chief Medical Officer, Physiowave Inc.

Professor Lam Khin Yong
Vice President (Research)
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

II. President’s Science Award (PSA)

Individual
Professor Loh Teck Peng
School of Physical & Mathematical Sciences
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Team consisting of:
Professor Tan Eng King
Deputy Medical Director (Academic Affairs), National Neuroscience Institute
Senior Consultant, Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute
Director, Research, National Neuroscience Institute
Professor, Programme in Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders, Duke-NUS Medical School
Co-Director, American Parkinson’s Disease Foundation International Center of Excellence (National Neuroscience Institute)
Associate Designated Institutional Official (Research), SingHealth Residency
Academic Vice Chair (Research), Neuroscience Academic Clinical Program

Associate Professor Lim Kah Leong
Head, Department of Physiology
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
National University of Singapore
Visiting Lead Scientist, National Neuroscience Institute
Associate Professor, Duke-NUS Medical School

Professor Ng Huck Hui
Executive Director
Genome Institute of Singapore, A*STAR

Associate Professor Louis Tan
Senior Consultant, Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute
Deputy Director, Research, National Neuroscience Institute
Academic Deputy Vice Chair (Research), Neuroscience Academic Clinical Program

III. President’s Technology Award (PTA)
Professor Stuart Cook
Tanoto Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
Professor & Director, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disorders Signature Research Programme (CVMD SRP), Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS)
Director of Cardiac MRI & Senior Consultant, Dept of Cardiology, National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS)
Director, National Heart Research Institute Singapore (NHRIS)
Professor, Clinical and Molecular Cardiology, Imperial College

ANNEX B
CITATIONS OF PSTA WINNERS

PRESIDENT’S SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MEDAL 2018
Professor Judith L. Swain
Visiting Professor, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
Founding Executive Director (Emeritus), Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Chief Medical Officer, Physiowave Inc.

"For her outstanding contributions in leading the development of translational and clinical research, nurturing of scientific talent, and facilitating closer interactions between universities, hospital systems, and research institutes, which raised Singapore’s international reputation in biomedical research and economic development"

Professor Judith Swain is an internationally recognised physician scientist and academic leader in translational and clinical research. She plays a pivotal role in Singapore’s research development and has held key positions in research institutes, universities, and hospitals for over 15 years. Professor Swain has contributed greatly to Singapore’s talent development and establishment of internationally competitive research programmes, and has served on various governing boards and advisory committees in Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE), public healthcare system, medical schools, and Research Centres of Excellence.

Professor Swain is the Founding Executive Director of the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), the first research institute in A*STAR devoted to developing translational and clinical research programmes. Under her leadership, SICS was strategically located within the National University of Singapore (NUS) medical campus to maximise the synergistic opportunities offered through proximity to physician investigators and patient populations.

At SICS, Professor Swain developed three signature programmes which contributed significantly to Singapore’s international scientific reputation and economic development. She oversaw the inception of Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO), a nationwide study on pregnancies and early childhood development that has shifted Singapore’s public health policy with key findings on gestational diabetes and its impact on children. She started the Human Nutritional Research programme in SICS. This led to A*STAR and the National University Health System’s (NUHS) joint establishment of the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC) which focuses on basic and translational human nutrition that shapes the economic development of Singapore’s food sector. The third programme was the Singapore Centre for Nutritional Sciences, Metabolic Diseases, and Human Development (SiNMED), a collaboration among SICS, NUS, and NUHS that catalysed the development of additional joint translational and clinical research programmes within these institutions.

A major focus of Professor Swain’s efforts has been on talent development. Having served on the International Advisory Panel of the A*STAR Graduate Academy for 13 years (including as Vice Chairperson), she helped to formulate the training programmes for joint MBBS, MD and PhD training for local and international A*STAR scholars. She is also advisor to NUS on talent development for medical academics, and has served in the same role with the National Healthcare Group (NHG). She was part of a group that formulated plans for translational and clinical talent development in Singapore and established the National Medical Research Council’s Singapore Translational Research Investigator Award, Clinician Scientist Award and Transition Award.

Professor Swain also served two terms as a director at NHG, on the oversight committee of the Institute of Mental Health and the founding governing board, as well as the Academic Oversight Committee of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University. She has also chaired the International Advisory Panel of the National University Heart Centre since its founding and is a founding member of the Academic Review Committee of MOE, and the governing board of the Cancer Sciences Institute.
Professor Swain previously served in academic leadership roles at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, and the University of California at San Diego. Her research activities have focused on the neuroscience of extreme human performance, studying elite performers such as US Navy SEALS and NASA astronauts.

In recognition of Professor Swain’s contribution to biomedical research and academic medicine, she has been elected to three prestigious societies in the US: the National Academy of Medicine (where she served as a council member); the Association of American Professors (where she served as President); and the American Society of Clinical Investigations (where she served as its first woman President).

Professor Swain is also passionate about translating technological discoveries into industry. In Singapore, Professor Swain was pivotal to the joint establishment of the Singapore Stanford Biodesign programme by A*STAR, the Economic Development Board and Stanford University to train medical technology entrepreneurs. She co-founded a medical device start-up in Silicon Valley, and has served as director or member of the scientific advisory boards of numerous biotech start-ups and several public biomedical and biotechnology companies. She also serves on the scientific advisory board of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. 

In 2017, Professor Swain was awarded the Friend of Singapore Public Service Medal for her contributions to Singapore.

For her outstanding contributions in leading the development of translational and clinical research, nurturing of scientific talent, and facilitating closer interactions between universities, hospital systems, and research institutes, which raised Singapore’s international reputation in biomedical research and economic development, Professor Judith L. Swain is awarded the 2018 President’s Science and Technology Medal.

PRESIDENT’S SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MEDAL 2018
Professor Lam Khin Yong
Vice President (Research)
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

"For his dedication to fostering scientific talent and shaping the research landscape in Singapore, and his deep commitment to advancing close collaboration between academia and industry, which have profoundly influenced Singapore’s development into a thriving research hub"

Professor Lam Khin Yong, Vice President (Research) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, is a lifelong advocate of research with impact, and has embodied this philosophy throughout the course of his illustrious career spanning more than three decades.

His contributions and leadership in shaping the pool of local scientific talent, charting the strategic development of Singapore’s high-performance computing capabilities, and driving the University’s research efforts have been, and continue to be, instrumental in advancing Singapore’s transformation as a knowledge economy and a global hub of innovation.

A strong advocate of the triple helix research collaboration model in which industry, academia and public agencies work together to deliver research outcomes with societal impact, Prof Lam was pivotal to the formation of landmark partnerships that have nurtured local scientific talent to support Singapore’s growth into a research hub of global renown.

Prof Lam was also instrumental in fostering an interdisciplinary mindset among researchers to address real-world challenges through translational research while advancing the frontiers of knowledge through theoretical discoveries in fundamental research.

Early in his career, Prof Lam led the successful merger between the National Supercomputer Research Centre, which was then under the National Science and Technology Board, and the Centre for Computational Mechanics at National University of Singapore (NUS) to form the Institute of High Performance Computing, or IHPC.

As the Founding Executive Director of IHPC, Prof Lam was key in its formative years. IHPC has since become a significant and strategic resource for Singapore, as it drives scientific inquiry and industry development and taps translational research for impact. His dedication towards extracting research value subsequently paved the way to the establishment of a series of key collaborations with industry. The legacy of his effort is evident to this day.

As the Founding Director of the A*STAR Graduate Academy, Prof Lam successfully established new models of collaboration with leading global universities to offer A*STAR graduate students the opportunity to receive co-supervision from leading academics as well as PhD degrees bearing the seal of the partner university.

At NTU Singapore, he continued to drive deep engagement with research and academic partners alike. As Associate Provost for Graduate Education & Special Projects, he developed longstanding partnerships with well-regarded international institutions including the University of Cambridge and Technical University of Munich, and continued to cement a series of joint PhD degree programmes.

With his colleagues, Prof Lam led the advancement of the University’s mission to engage industry partners in scientific and translational research. Over the last five years, his strong push for deeper industry engagement has led to the creation of six Corporate Labs (set up with Rolls-Royce, ST Engineering, SMRT, Delta Electronics, Singtel and Surbana Jurong), as well as bilateral research partnerships between NTU Singapore and Alibaba, BMW and SAAB, among others.

Prof Lam’s efforts to bolster the research landscape in Singapore extended beyond national borders. In his various capacities, he established new links with numerous global industries and universities to leverage their expertise across research themes and innovation ventures.

Prof Lam has received international recognition for his success in initiating and growing research partnerships and collaborations. In 2017, he was conferred the National Order of the Legion of Honour (Chevalier), for nurturing academic and industry collaborations that have strengthened bilateral relations between France and Singapore. 

For his distinguished contributions to fostering closer collaborations between academia and industry, as well as his tireless efforts in shaping the development of Singapore’s high-performance computing capabilities and nurturing local scientific talent, Professor Lam Khin Yong is awarded the 2018 President’s Science and Technology Medal.

PRESIDENT’S SCIENCE AWARD 2018
Professor Loh Teck Peng
School of Physical & Mathematical Sciences
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

"For his outstanding research accomplishments in advancing organic chemistry and green chemistry that have far-reaching implications in fields such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and nanotechnology"

Professor Loh Teck Peng from the School of Physical & Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, is recognised for his novel synthesis processes and his outstanding scientific contributions, which pushes the frontiers of synthetic and green chemistry, and helps to cement Singapore’s position as a leader in the field of chemistry.

A world-renowned chemist, Professor Loh’s creative and insightful research has resulted in technologies with disruptive impact on the biomedical and pharmaceutical industry. Over the last 20 years, Professor Loh has created dozens of innovative, practical and green methods that can produce synthetic compounds, placing him at the forefront of organic synthesis research and establishing his position as one of its pioneers.

Inspired by nature’s efficient ways of making biomolecules, such as in the biological systems found in the human body, Professor Loh has developed efficient bio-inspired synthetic processes that work in water under biocompatible reaction conditions where a cell can survive - for instance, in room temperature and under normal atmospheric pressure, without metals or harmful chemicals, and producing little to no waste.

Demonstrated by Professor Loh through a number of elegant total syntheses – the transformation of biomolecules to a complex compound with a specific function – these newly developed green methods have provided additional strategies for the efficient construction of complex molecules with the potential to be employed by the pharmaceutical sector in the development of new chemotherapy compounds used for cancer and biochemical markers that can bind to targeted cells for bioimaging.
Professor Loh’s research is strongly guided by the need to make these processes environmentally-friendly. Conventional manufacturing processes needed to make synthetic compounds such as those used in pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries require the application of organic solvents to extract organic compounds or to synthesise new chemical compounds. Such organic solvents are toxic, flammable, and can be harmful to human health.

Since the early 90s, Professor Loh has developed many green technologies, especially in creating organic reactions in water through the innovative use of various reusable catalysts in water, instead of organic solvents. His latest success is a truly green synthetic method where the products can be easily isolated by simple filtration, without the need for organic solvent extraction and tedious column chromatography.

The process is also atom-economic, where the amount of starting materials and the resulting products are equal with no atoms wasted, while still working under biocompatible reaction conditions. This discovery could revolutionise the way pharmaceuticals are manufactured in industrial plants. The breakthrough is also scientifically significant, as the most abundant compound in the world, water, is found to be a promoter in this reaction. This opens up new avenues for the development of new water-promoted reactions.

Over his 24-year academic career, Professor Loh has published more than 300 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, been granted 10 patents and written five book chapters. His work has been cited more than 11,700 times and the significance and impact of his research have been recognised locally and internationally. He had received best researcher awards from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), the GSK-SNIC award in organic chemistry (Singapore), and the Thousand Talent Award (PRC) and the Yoshida Prize (Japan).

Professor Loh is an elected fellow of the Malaysia Academy of Sciences and the Singapore Academy of Sciences. He currently serves as a member of the advisory boards of international journals such as Chemical Communications, Synlett and Synthesis, Heterocycles, Chemical Record and Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry. He is currently an associate editor of the Journal of Organic Chemistry.

For his outstanding research accomplishments in advancing organic chemistry and green chemistry that have far-reaching implications in fields such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and nanotechnology, Professor Loh is awarded the 2018 President’s Science Award.

PRESIDENT’S SCIENCE AWARD 2018
Team comprising:
Professor Tan Eng King
Deputy Medical Director (Academic Affairs), National Neuroscience Institute
Senior Consultant, Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute Director,
Research, National Neuroscience Institute Professor,
Programme in Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders,
Duke-NUS Medical School Co-Director,
American Parkinson’s Disease Foundation International Center of Excellence (National Neuroscience Institute) Associate Designated Institutional Official (Research),
SingHealth Residency Academic Vice Chair (Research), Neuroscience Academic Clinical Program

Associate Professor Lim Kah Leong
Head, Department of Physiology
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
National University of Singapore
Visiting Lead Scientist, National Neuroscience Institute
Associate Professor, Duke-NUS Medical School

Professor Ng Huck Hui
Executive Director
Genome Institute of Singapore, A*STAR

Associate Professor Louis Tan
Senior Consultant, Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute
Deputy Director, Research, National Neuroscience Institute Academic
Deputy Vice Chair (Research), Neuroscience Academic Clinical Program

"For outstanding contribution in the field of Parkinson’s Disease, galvanising clinical research and transforming patient care through the identification of clinical biomarkers, development of novel models and therapeutics"

Professor Tan Eng King and team are recognised for their outstanding contributions in identifying clinical biomarkers, developing novel models and therapeutics for advancing the understanding and management of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) over the last five years. Their research has facilitated partnerships with industry, clinical and research institutions and has led to enhanced healthcare policies that support improved clinical care for patients with PD in Singapore. The team’s work exemplifies the concept and significance of actualising “bench to bedside”, from research endeavours to clinical outcomes.

Neurodegenerative diseases pose a significant burden on our healthcare system with our rapidly ageing population. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2040, neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and PD will overtake cancer to become the second leading cause of death. In Singapore, more than 30% of the national burden of disease is borne by the elderly. A high proportion of years lived with disability is attributed to neurodegenerative diseases. Although not life threatening, the debilitating nature of these diseases exacts a huge toll on our healthcare system.

Recognising the challenges that PD patients face in their daily lives, the team developed an integrated research plan to improve the clinical management of PD. Through the identification of its disease burden, clinical and genetic biomarkers, the team spearheaded the development of novel disease models with probes for the testing of new therapeutic targets.

They conducted epidemiologic studies to establish disease prevalence and life time economic burden, and identified critical pharmacologic side effects that led to changes in treatment paradigm in Singapore and influenced drug regulatory changes globally. They identified monoamine oxidase inhibitors as drugs that are able to slow down disease progression, and subsequently developed a novel probe that is able to monitor the activity and act as a surrogate marker for the disease. In addition, they have also identified Asian specific genetic markers (that are present in millions of healthy individuals) that can protect against or increase the risk of the disease. This discovery allows them to screen at risk individuals for neuroprotective therapies.

The team created the world’s first three dimensional midbrain organoid that produces neuromelanin, a characteristic hallmark found only in human brains. Next, they developed the PD midbrain models that harbour biomarkers and genes identified from patients. Their hallmark research culminated in the discovery of a direct pathophysiologic connection between two major proteins that are involved in both Alzheimer’s disease (amyloid precursor protein) and PD (lecucine rich repeat kinase 2). This link explained why these two most common neurodegenerative conditions sometimes coexist in the same patient. The novel finding has led to the experimental trial of a clinical grade drug in the human organoid model for its future evaluation in clinical trials.

In essence, the team’s research has led to new treatment guidelines for PD patients, the formulation of improved healthcare policies and the development of an authentic human midbrain model, redefining the standard of care globally. The innovative scientific insights harvested from clinical disease biomarkers, serve as a crucial preclinical platform to test newly discovered drug targets, changing the landscape for the treatment and management of Parkinson’s Disease.

Professor Tan and his team’s transformative contribution to the field of PD has enhanced NNI’s international standing and achieved recognition from the Parkinson Foundation as an international centre of excellence. The team’s individual global ranking as scientists has also risen with their outstanding efforts. Professor Tan has recently been awarded the Marsden Lectureship, one of the most prestigious global accolades, for his contribution to basic translational research in this field.

For their outstanding contributions in the field of Parkinson’s Disease, galvanising clinical research and transforming patient care through the identification of clinical biomarkers, development of novel models and therapeutics, Professor Tan and team are awarded the 2018 President’s Science Award.

PRESIDENT’S TECHNOLOGY AWARD 2018

Professor Stuart Cook
Tanoto Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
Professor & Director, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disorders Signature Research Programme (CVMD SRP), Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS)
Director of Cardiac MRI & Senior Consultant, Dept of Cardiology, National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS)
Director, National Heart Research Institute Singapore (NHRIS)
Professor, Clinical and Molecular Cardiology, Imperial College

"For his outstanding research in human genetics and cardiovascular disease, which have impacted the field of precision medicine, and resulted in the development of tools for genetic sequencing now used in clinical practice worldwide"

Professor Stuart Cook is a leading cardiovascular research expert with extensive work in human genetics, heart muscle disease and cardiac imaging. Throughout his career, he has explored both the clinical and academic facets of the cardiovascular field in prestigious institutions such as Harvard University and Imperial College London. In 2012 and 2017, he was conferred the Singapore Translational Research (STaR) Investigator Award by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), and appointed Professor at Duke-NUS and senior consultant at the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS). Professor Cook was also awarded the American Heart Association Council on Genomic and Precision Medicine (GPM) Medal of Honour in 2017, an international award which recognises scientists who are world leaders in the field of genomic and precision medicine, and whose work has transformed the field.

As director of the Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disorders (CVMD) Signature Research Programme at Duke-NUS and the NHRIS, Professor Cook heads a cross-disciplinary research team that seeks to identify new genes and pathways for heart disease, for better therapeutic targets. His work in Singapore is particularly important, as Asians have a different genetic makeup from Caucasian populations, the latter of which is more commonly the subject of research focus overseas. It is important to understand the Asian genetic makeup as this impacts the prevalence and course of several cardiovascular disorders.

In his capacity as clinician mentor at Duke-NUS, Professor Cook also supports and mentors budding clinician-scientists who wish to embark on both clinical practice and research work, helping to grow the critical mass of clinician-scientists in Singapore who act as a translational bridge between upstream research and downstream clinical practice.

About one in 250 people worldwide suffers from a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle becomes weakened, stretched and unable to pump blood efficiently, potentially leading to abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure and even sudden death. In 2012, Professor Cook and his collaborators discovered that mutations in titin, the biggest human gene, cause heart muscle weakness in Caucasian populations. Professor Cook went on to lead a genetic study in Singapore to find out whether mutations in the same gene are responsible for the illness in Asians as well. The titin mutation was found to be responsible for up to a quarter of cases in Singaporean-Asian populations.

This discovery catalysed the development of a sequencing assay which, in collaboration with genomics company Illumina, Professor Cook and his group translated into a commercially-available, next-generation test kit, with customized software to aid in the interpretation of genetic results. Marketed as the TruSight Cardio Sequencing Kit, the assay is used to screen many thousands of patients each year, for various gene mutations linked to inherited heart conditions, in laboratories around the world.

Efforts to discover the genetic causes of inherited heart conditions — much like the search for a genetic diagnosis in other diseases — have been stymied by the limitations of tests focused on single genes, or just a handful of targets. TruSight Cardio, however has a high depth and uniformity of coverage for its price point – the assay tests for 174 genes known to be associated with 17 cardiac conditions, including cardiomyopathies, arrhythmias, and aortopathies, covering all causal variants in these genes with a demonstrated link to inherited cardiac conditions. These genes were selected by researchers at the NHCS and Imperial College of London, and include those known to be associated with hereditary heart disease, as well as emerging genes found in academic literature in the field.

For his outstanding research in human genetics and cardiovascular disease, which have impacted the field of precision medicine, and resulted in the development of tools for genetic sequencing now used in clinical practice worldwide, Professor Cook is awarded the 2018 President’s Technology Award.

ANNEX C

LIST OF YSA WINNERS AND INFORMATION SHEET ON YSA

List of YSA Winners

Biological & Biomedical Sciences category

Dr Xue Shifeng
Senior Research Fellow
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR

Physical, information & Engineering Sciences category

Dr Liu Zheng
Associate Professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Dr Anjan Soumyanarayanan
Scientist
Institute of Materials Research & Engineering (IMRE), A*STAR

About the Young Scientist Awards

The Young Scientist Awards recognise young researchers, aged 35 years and below, who are actively engaged in R&D in Singapore, and who have shown great potential to be world-class researchers in their fields of expertise. This award is organised by the Singapore National Academy of Science and supported by A*STAR. Recipients will receive a trophy, a certificate of commendation and a prize of $10,000.

Young Scientist Award Selection Committee

The judging committee for the Young Scientist Awards is chaired by Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Science Centre.

ANNEX D

CITATIONS OF YSA WINNERS

Biological & Biomedical Sciences category
Dr Xue Shifeng
Senior Research Fellow
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR

"For her research on gene regulation in developmental biology"

Dr Xue is interested in understanding how animals develop from a single cell into complicated organisms of multiple cell and tissue types, focusing on gene expression during cell fate change. While most previous studies focused on transcriptional regulation, Dr Xue’s work has found a new layer of regulation at the translation level conferred by the ribosome. She found that a single ribosomal protein was able to confer specificity to the ribosome, directing the ribosome to specifically translate a subset of mRNAs necessary for patterning the embryo. Her work further identified multiple regulatory elements on mRNAs that allow for such specificity. Together, these findings identify a new important layer of regulation in embryogenesis and transform our understanding of gene expression.

More recently, she has moved on to study human diseases of embryological origins. She found a novel gene that is responsible for arthrogryposis, a disease affecting the development of joints. She is now focusing on Bosma arhinia microphthalmia syndrome (BAMS), an extremely rare disease where patients are born without a nose. Although described since 1980s, its genetic basis remained unknown. Through exome sequencing, she discovered unique mutations in a single gene as the cause of this phenomenon in all patients studied. She showed that these mutations are gain of function mutations, in contrast to the loss of function mutations in the same gene that are responsible for a more common muscle degeneration disorder, facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD). As BAMS is an embryological disease with little deleterious effects in adulthood, the gain of function mutations in BAMS may be used to inform drug development approaches in FSHD. Her work has the potential to unlock novel insights in craniofacial development as well as muscle biology.

Dr Xue’s work has published in internationally acclaimed journals such as Nature, Cell and Nature Genetics. She has received multiple local grants and was a recipient of the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award (2015) and the National Science Scholarship (2005).

Physical, information & Engineering Sciences category

Dr Liu Zheng
Associate Professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

"For his research on the synthesis of two-dimensional materials"

Shrinking bulk materials into one-atom-thickness films, so called two-dimensional (2D) materials, will trigger fascinating physical properties, as exemplified in graphene. Over a thousand 2D materials have so far been predicted, and they are promising candidates for a wide spectrum of applications - from electronics, optics and catalysis to energy. However, only a small selection of these has been synthesised so far.

Being a pioneer in the synthesis of 2D materials, Dr Liu has synthesized a variety of 2D materials, including hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), transitional metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), III-VI families, alloys and heterostructures since he joined NTU Singapore. More recently, his research group demonstrated a universal method for the synthesis TMDs. Using this method, they synthesized more than 40 atom-thin TMD compounds and revealed their growth mechanisms. His work has attracted tremendous attention and is significantly strengthening Singapore’s capability in the production of 2D materials.

Based on the 2D materials, Dr Liu studied their interesting physical phenomena such as charge density wave and 2D superconductivity. He also explored the potential applications of 2D materials in electronics, such as for high-mobility field-effect transistor, broadband mid-infrared detector. and non-volatile programmable p–n junctions.

To date, Dr Liu has co-authored over 170 papers, with citations exceeding 15,000 and has a h-index of 56. Among the papers, 22 are published in Nature and Science serials, and more than 60 are in top journals such as Advanced Materials, Nano Letter, ACS Nano, Journal of the American Chemical Society, and Physical Review Letters. He was in the final list of the World Technology Award in the Energy category (2012), a recipient of Nanyang Assistant Professorship (2013) at the Nanyang Technological University, and a Singapore National Research Foundation Fellowship Award (2013)

Dr Anjan Soumyanarayanan
Scientist
Institute of Materials Research & Engineering (IMRE), A*STAR

"For his research unveiling and tailoring emergent quantum phenomena towards scalable nanoelectronics"

Electronic miniaturization and growing computing demands have fuelled the quest for fundamentally new technology platforms – fast, stable, and energy-efficient at the nanoscale. Anjan’s research seeks to realize such scalable nanoelectronic devices by harnessing novel quantum phenomena emerging at material surfaces and interfaces. His contributions to unveiling emergent properties of electronic materials have enabled tailoring of two-dimensional (2D) quantum phases and spin topology towards advanced nanoelectronics.

Anjan’s early work on developing picometre-resolved spectroscopic imaging led to discoveries of a strain-induced quantum phase transition in the 2D material NbSe2 and doping-induced charge-order and associated quantum phase transition in 2D copper oxides. The first of these, with concomitant developments, gave birth to strain engineering of quantum materials. He further employed spectroscopic quasiparticle imaging to study spin-polarized 2D states in topological materials, which enabled the recent discovery of heavy Dirac fermions – promising candidates for topological quantum computation.

In recent years, Anjan formed an A*STAR-led interdisciplinary team to study magnetic skyrmions. These nanoscale 2D spin structures with ambient topological stability have imminent utility towards low-power computing. His team leveraged on A*STAR’s capabilities to develop a thin film material that uniquely enables bottom-up control of skyrmion properties. By modulating the parent spin-orbit interaction, they could smoothly tailor the skyrmion size, stability, and density using techniques compatible with industry (CMOS) fabrication. They have since used this skyrmion platform to demonstrate electrical detection and device-level manipulation towards GHz information processing and synaptic computing. Anjan’s team looks to build on their spin-orbit technology (SpOT) capabilities and catalyse advanced electronics in Singapore.

Anjan’s research has led to numerous publications in prestigious journals such as Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Physical Review. Anjan was the sole worldwide recipient of the 2018 IEEE Magnetics Early Career Award for his experimental materials discovery work on skyrmions at A*STAR. He was among the inaugural recipients of the A*STAR National Science Scholarship.

ANNEX E

FACT SHEET ON PSTA SELECTION COMMITTEES

Judging Process

Nominations for the awards start from January every year, and end with judging and endorsement of the awards in August. The nominations undergo a rigorous process of selection before being shortlisted for judging.

Award Selection Committees

The award selection panels comprised senior representatives from the industry, academia, and public institutions. The main selection committee was chaired by Mr Tan Gee Paw, Special Advisor to Chairman, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency.

Professor Lee Eng Hin, Professor and Emeritus Consultant, National University Health System, chaired the selection committee for the President’s Science Award.

Ms Shirley Wong, Managing Partner, TNF Ventures Pte Ltd, chaired the selection committee for the President’s Technology Award.

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