M’sian scientist who discovered superbug solution honoured
KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Lam Shu Jie – the scientist who discovered a solution to antibiotic-resistant bacteria – has been bestowed the Outstanding Malaysian Chinese Award.
The 26-year-old took an eighthour flight from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur to attend the Chinese Community Patriotic Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre here where she received the award.
Dr Lam said she never expected such a recognition and was honoured that the Malaysian Chinese community chose her as one of the recipients.
“I feel very honoured and surprised. When they contacted me, I said sure, I’ll come back to receive it,” said an elated Dr Lam.
“And to see such a huge attendance to celebrate Malaysia Day and the Malaysian Chinese achievements makes me feel really proud to be part of it,” she said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak presented the award to her during the assembly.
Dr Lam, who only spent some 24 hours in Malaysia, is flying back to Sydney this morning where she is currently working for a multinational company serving the combined industries of health information technologies and clinical research.
She said her “never give up” attitude was what led to her scientific breakthrough when she and her team of researchers discovered a possible solution to the antibiot- ic-resistant bacteria commonly known as “superbugs” when she did her PhD in Chemical Engineering.
She holds on to a piece of advice by her late paediatrician father, Dr Lam Pan Nam – to do one’s best in everything and be accountable for what one does.
“I looked up to my father, keeping in mind what he used to tell me, that I don’t need to be the best in everything but just do my best,” said Dr Lam.
Born in Scotland when her father was doing his specialist training there, Dr Lam grew up in Batu Pahat where she attended SJKC Ai Chun 1
and the Temenggong Ibrahim Girls’ School.
She went on to score 11 A1s in her SPM and did her foundation studies at the University of Melbourne. Her excellent results saw the Australian government giving her a full scholarship to pursue her Chemical Engineering degree at the same university.
“I found a deep interest in understanding why things happen and solving problems. That’s how it led to me pursuing a PhD.
“During my PhD, it was my supervisor who asked me if I wanted to take up the challenge of finding a solution to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and so I started.
“It wasn’t easy and straightforward. We tested a lot of different compounds until we found one that worked and further optimised it,” she said.
Dr Lam received the award alongside national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei and diver Cheong Jun Hoong.
Lee, a three-time Olympic silver medallist, managed to squeeze in some time to train early in the morning before attending the event.
He was preparing for the upcoming Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open which will be held from next Tuesday to Sunday.
Lee had to leave right after the event yesterday as he needed to board a flight to Japan.
Cheong hoped that the award can serve as a motivation to inspire others to move forward and scale greater heights.
Stellar achievements: Dr Lam (left) with diver Cheong Jun Hoong and shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei, who were also award recipients.