Malaysian woman awarded Honorary Order of the British Empire (OBE) for medical research


Cancer Research Malaysia chief executive officer Teo Soo Hwang was recently awarded an Honorary Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom for services to medical research.

Teo is the sole Malaysian out of 221 individuals awarded the honorary OBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List.

Teo, a graduate from the University of Cambridge, was given the award by British high commissioner to Malaysia Vicki Treadell, at an investiture ceremony recently.

Her family, friends and colleagues joined in celebrating her achievement at the ceremony held at Treadell’s residence in Kuala Lumpur.

According to the report, Teo was recognised for her outstanding scientific leadership in developing research collaboration, between Malaysia and the UK and on a global level, for working to improve the diagnosis and treatment for a variety of cancers.

“Professor Teo’s work has fundamentally contributed to global understanding of cancer risk factors and genetics among the Asian community. This will help in better cancer screening guidelines and treatment worldwide.

“It gives me great pleasure to confer this award to Professor Teo on behalf of Her Majesty, The Queen,” Treadell said.

Teo, who works closely with a wide range of UK research bodies and institutions, specialises in Asian genetics and cancers particularly prevalent within Asian communities, especially breast, ovarian, nasopharyngeal and oral cancers.

“This award belongs to a large team of individuals who have supported our efforts in changing the outcome of cancer patients through research.

“When we first started, no one thought that a non-profit Malaysian organisation in a low resource setting could succeed in cancer research.

“Today is possible because of countless donors, supporters, partners, doctors and, most importantly, patients who have walked with us along this journey.

“In particular, I would like to thank my team for their sacrifices, their contribution and their diligence in ensuring impactful research,” Teo said.

The research conducted by Teo and her team has helped inform studies that underpin the development of Precision Medicine, which is revolutionising the way medicine is practised in the UK and around the world by creating cancer treatments according to the genetic profile of individual patients.

Cancer Research Malaysia was founded in 2001 as a non-profit body which relies entirely on sponsorship and public donations. Teo, Tunku Ahmad Yahaya and Dr Aishah Ong were the founding members.

According to the report, Teo’s fundraising activities have enabled more than 2,000 Malaysian women to receive heavily subsidised mammogram screening, and more than 1,000 Malaysian women to receive improved patient support through the patient navigation programme.


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