Two local scientists now head key research institutes
A*Star appointments show that S'pore's biomedical sciences scene is maturing
In a sign of the maturing biomedical sciences scene here, two home- grown researchers have been chosen to helm key Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) institutes.
Professor Lam Kong Peng is head of the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI), and Professor Ng Huck Hui helms the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS).
Appointed executive directors this month following stints as acting heads, both have ambitious plans for their institutes. Prof Lam, 48, takes over from a stalwart of the life sciences scene, Professor Miranda Yap, 64, who is in a coma after a brain aneurysm last year.
The well-known institution she built up from scratch is the heart of Singapore's biologics research and development. Biologics are drugs - including hormones, vaccines and antitoxins - synthesised from living cells, and represent a fast-growing multi-billion-dollar market.
"BTI will venture out of its comfort zone to engage the clinical communities, with more collaborations with the universities and hospitals."
PROFESSOR LAM KONG PENG
Professor Lam Kong Peng, 48, obtained his PhD at Columbia University in the United States and joined the Institute for Genetics at the University of Cologne in Germany in 1995.
He returned to Singapore as principal investigator at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in 1998, and in 2000 received the Singapore Youth Award for his research.
He was seconded to the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) Biomedical Research Council from 2003 to 2006 while also heading a research laboratory at the Centre for Molecular Medicine.
He returned to full-time research in October 2006 and was founding executive director of the Singapore Immunology Network from 2006 to 2008.
He joined the Bioprocessing Technology Institute as scientific director in 2008, and is now executive director.
Professor Ng Huck Hui, 41, is well known for stem cell research and has published seminal research pieces.
Before joining the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) as a group leader in 2003, he was a post-doctoral fellow with Harvard Medical School under the prestigious Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Post-doctoral Fellowship.
In 2010, he was appointed associate director for stem cell and development biology in GIS.
Last year, he became deputy director for research programmes.
The president of the Stem Cell Society in Singapore, he has won numerous awards, including the Chen New Investigator Award presented by the Human Genome Organisation in 2010, the prestigious National Science Award in 2007, and the President's Science Award last year.