Dr Yap, Malaysian outstanding young scientists


HIS calibre in research ability and innovations has won Dr Yap Beow Keat many awards, including the prestigious Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Fellowship which supported his postgraduate studies, a bronze medal in an International Conference and Exposition on Inventions by Institutions of Higher Learning, and an Early Career Researcher Award by the Peptide User Groups in Melbourne, Australia.

So, it is no doubt that the Lindau Nobel Laureate Council has selected Dr Yap as one of the Malaysian young researchers attending 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting at Lindau in Germany for his many local and international recognitions.

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is a globally-recognised forum for young scientists to engage with Nobel laureates, allowing the transfer of knowledge between the two generations of scientists. They attended to Nobel laureates’ lectures, participate in panel discussions and have personal interactions with Nobel laureates.

Dr Yap, a registered pharmacist and a senior lecturer in the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, USM, realised the need for more affordable new medications in Malaysia to treat patients from the low- and middle-income groups.

He said the cases of helpless patients during the initial H1N1 pandemic in Malaysia in 2009, as well as high incidences of cancer relapses, reaffirmed his interest and passion in drug discovery research.

“As an academician, I aspire to train more medicinal chemists and I hope one day there will be more medicine discovered and developed by Malaysians,” said Dr Yap.

Six other young scientists from USM, who also attended the meeting last month, are Dr Tan Suat Cheng, Chan Siok Yee, Nur Aizati Athirah Daud, Dr Mohd Ghows Mohd Azzam and Shahidee Zainal Abidin.

Shahidee, 32, said the golden opportunity would help him broaden his network in science as he is aiming to have productive sessions with researchers from all over the world, which would probably lead to scientific collaborations in future.

With a passion for discovery and knowledge, Shahidee is enrolled in a doctoral programme at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). His curiosity on the genetic components that regulate the molecular networks underlying the development of the brain has driven him to pursue neuroscience under the supervision of Dr Ling King Hwa, a developmental neurogeneticist and a senior lecturer in UPM’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

He has also won numerous awards and achievements on both national and international stages, such as the Neuroscience Trophy Competition, Postgraduate Research Grant by UPM and the International Brain Research Organisations Asia-Pacific Region Council grant to attend a two-week associate school in Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India in 2013.

Shahidee also had the opportunity to work on a cutting-edge technique for Alzheimer’s disease patient at the Harvard Medical School at Harvard University, at Professor Bruce Yanker’s laboratory during his one-year internship.

Three Malaysian undergraduate students were chosen to participate in the CERN Summer Student Programme in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 25 to Aug 17. They are Fahmi Ibrahim from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Yohashama P. Sivagnana Kumaran from University of Malaya and Mirza Basyir Rodhuan from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.

CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, offers undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering from around the world an opportunity to join the research teams and participate in experiments at CERN’s facilities in Geneva through this programme.

Fahmi, 23, a final-year student of Science Physics, said he is motivated to gain experiences, explore and learn more about data analysis of particle physics in pursuing his ambition as a particle physicist.

“I noticed the lack of theorist and experimentalist in particle physics in the country,” said Fahmi, who completed his internship for three months in Osaka University, Japan.

Yohashama, 22, who is pursuing Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, has deep interest in quantum mechanics and has just completed his final-year project.

“As a child, I have always been fascinated about how the universe works, whether from the very small, like electrons, to the very big, like planetary systems, he said.

“I am motivated to disseminate scientific knowledge and being able to join the rest of the participants is a dream comes true. I will take the advantage to use the high-class facilities and have a fruitful discussion with fellow students.”

Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) is responsible for the national-level vetting and selection of nominees for Malaysia while the final selection is by the respective review panels from Lindau and CERN.

ASM president Professor Datuk Dr Dr Asma Ismail said the academy’s connections as a knowledge partner with several international organisations has enabled it to nominate young Malaysian scientists to participate in various international research programmes.

“ASM emphasises the need to invest in young, early-career scientists and researchers by providing avenues and opportunities for them to gain experience and expertise in order to solve pressing global issues,” she said. Asma urged higher learning institutions, research institutes, and relevant government ministries and agencies to collaborate with ASM to provide requisite financial support for the participation of young scientists in such development programmes to enrich their work and study experience, as well as to build collaborative network with international organisations.

Since 2004, 63 young scientists have participated in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, while 18 students have participated in the CERN Summer Student Programme since 2012.



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