In the name of sci­ence

Three sci­en­tists re­ceive grants from L’Oreal for their projects.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - WOMAN - by MA­JORIe chIeW

ASE­NIOR lec­turer, re­search sci­en­tist and a stu­dent are the win­ners of this year’s L’Oreal Malaysia For Women In Sci­ence Na­tional Fel­low­ships.

Dr Wi­dad Is­mail, Dr Lim Kue Peng and Chong Pan Pan join the line-up of 15 women sci­en­tists who have re­ceived L’Oreal Malaysia fel­low­ships since its launch in 2006.

The an­nual award aims to of­fer as­sis­tance, en­cour­age­ment and recog­ni­tion to women who con­trib­ute to sci­en­tific progress. A jury panel picks three re­cip­i­ents who will each re­ceive RM20,000 for their sci­en­tific project in Malaysia.

Jury pres­i­dent Prof Asma Is­mail, Univer­siti Sains Malaysia deputy vice-chan­cel­lor for re­search and in­no­va­tion, saluted the win­ners as “women with pi­o­neer mind­sets”.

“L’Oreal For Women In Sci­ence Award has pro­vided fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance and sup­port to over 900 women in 80 coun­tries since its cre­ation 12 years ago,” said L’Oreal Malaysia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Stan­le­ick.

The pro­gramme is jointly con­ducted with the Malaysian Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Unesco and sup­ported by the Academy of Sci­ences Malaysia, the Sci­ence, Technology and In­no­va­tion Min­istry, and the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry.

Alor Star-born Dr Wi­dad, 34, is a se­nior lec­turer and re­search sci­en­tist with Univer­siti Sains Malaysia School of Elec­tri­cal and Elec­tronic En­gi­neer­ing in Pe­nang.

Her re­search fo­cuses on the devel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of smart health com­mu­nity us­ing sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Ra­dio Fre­quency Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion (RFID) technology, which utilises ra­dio waves to au­to­mat­i­cally iden­tify peo­ple, ob­jects or place at a dis­tance with­out a di­rect line-of­sight.

Her work tar­gets to build RFID ap­pli­ca­tions for medicine ad­min­is­tra­tion and pa­tient iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

RFID can be used to dis­tin­guish forged and ex­pired medicines, and mon­i­tors the avail­abil­ity of medicines to en­sure suf­fi­cient stocks for emer­gen­cies. This is to im­prove ef­fi­ciency of ser­vice

(clock­wise from top) Dr Lim Kue Peng is work­ing on a vac­cine that tar­gets can­cer cells; Dr Wi­dad Is­mail is de­vel­op­ing technology to im­prove ef­fi­ciency of ser­vice de­liv­ery in health­care while Chong Pan Pan is in­volved in stem cell re­search. de­liv­ery in the health­care sec­tor.

Dr Wi­dad works closely with her role model, Prof Asma.

Prof Asma, she said, is “an in­cred­i­ble sci­en­tist who won more than 60 awards and recog­ni­tions both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

“It’s not easy jug­gling a ca­reer and fam­ily but it’s pos­si­ble with smart plan­ning,” said the mother of three. She be­lieves in achiev­ing qual­ity work ev­ery day.

Post-doc­toral re­search sci­en­tist with the Can­cer Re­search Ini­tia­tives Foun­da­tion (Carif) Dr Lim, 34, said she was al­ways sad­dened to read about can­cer pa­tients. The news of their di­ag­no­sis is dev­as­tat­ing and sounds like a death sen­tence.

“I want to do some­thing to help them through sci­ence,” said Dr Lim, who is from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

Her re­search project is to use vac­cines to train im­mune cells to de­tect and recog­nise can­cer cells which es­cape the im­mune sys­tem, and kill them.

“This form of tar­geted ther­apy gen­er­ates a highly spe­cific im­mune re­sponse to­wards the tu­mour and is ex­pected to be as­so­ci­ated with fewer side ef­fects typ­i­cally com­pared to chemo­ther­apy.

“In ad­di­tion, it can hunt out re­cur­ring can­cer and is rel­a­tively cheaper com­pared with other tar­geted can­cer treat­ment meth­ods,” she ex­plained.

Dr Lim’s role model is No­bel Lau­re­ate Marie Curie and she dreams of hav­ing a re­search life like Curie, who ex­celled dur­ing an era of male dom­i­nance. Curie dis­cov­ered the the­ory of ra­dioac­tiv­ity and un­der her di­rec­tion, peo­ple started to treat can­cer us­ing ra­dioac­tive iso­topes.

“Don’t be afraid of fail­ure.

Women of sci­ence:

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