Breast cancer researcher from A*Star wins L'Oreal women's science fellowship

Dr Li Jingmei with mammogram images, which she studies to see how breast density predicts cancer risks. A young breast cancer researcher from Singapore will soon have the chance to get her hands on a trove of data, thanks to a prestigious internation
Dr Li Jingmei with mammogram images, which she studies to see how breast density predicts cancer risks. A young breast cancer researcher from Singapore will soon have the chance to get her hands on a trove of data, thanks to a prestigious international science fellowship. -- PHOTO:  L'OREAL SINGAPORE

A young breast cancer researcher from Singapore will soon have the chance to get her hands on a trove of data, thanks to a prestigious international science fellowship.

Dr Li Jingmei, 31, received this year's UNESCO-L'Oreal International For Women In Science Fellowship, one of 15 women scientists around the world to do so. The postdoctoral research fellow at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Genome Institute of Singapore was picked from three Singaporean finalists.

She will receive her award at a ceremony in Paris this month.

With her US$40,000 (S$50,672) award, Dr Li will spend two years at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, where she previously completed her doctorate in medical science.

There, she plans to use Sweden's nationwide disease registries to work out how genetic mutations that up the risk of breast cancer slightly are linked to aggressive types of breast cancers.

"It's harder to do (this) in Singapore at this point," Dr Li said. "You need to approach all the different hospitals and get people to collaborate and share data."

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Singapore, and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women here. Over the course of a lifetime, 1 in 16 women here will develop breast cancer by age 75.