Awards and Achievements

Since inception in October 2008, several CSI Singapore scientists and clinician-scientists have won awards for their outstanding research and commitment towards improving science in Singapore.

Dr Takayoshi Matsumura, Senior Research Scientist from Prof Toshio Suda’s lab, won the Best Oral Presentation Award (Runner-Up) at the ninth Frontiers in Cancer Science conference. Masturah Rashid, PhD student from Dr Edward Chow’s lab, received the Best Poster Award, which came with a travel award to present her research work at the AACR Conference in 2018.

Dr Tan Shi Hao, Research Fellow from Dr Takaomi Sanda’s group, and Daryl Tay, Research Assistant from Dr Polly Chen’s group, were awarded Outstanding Poster Awards at the RNA Biology Symposium 2017. At the same symposium, Liu Yan Jing, PhD student from Prof Daniel Tenen’s group was selected to give the SRBA Oral Presentation.

Madhu Mathi Kanchi, Eve Wang, and Shreya Kar, PhD students from Dr Alan Prem Kumar’s group won Best Poster and/or Oral Scientific Presentation Awards at the International Conference on Scientific Frontiers in Natural Product Based Drugs

Dr Toh Tan Boon, Dr Xu Liang, Dr Avinash Bahirvani, Dr Zhou Jianbiao, Dr Kong Li Ren, Michelle Mok, Deepa Rajagopalan, Regina Wong, Nishi Kumari, and Chooi Jing Yuan, who are post-doctoral researchers and students at CSI Singapore, presented their research at the NCAM 2017 symposium and received awards for their outstanding posters and oral presentation.

Dr Toh Tan Boon, Research Fellow from Dr Edward Chow’s lab received an EMBO Travel Award to present his findings at an EMBO meeting.

Prof Chng Wee Joo and Dr Polly Chen, Principal Investigator, were recognized by NUSMed for their exciting research and were awarded the Researcher and Young Researcher of the Year award respectively. At the same ceremony, Dr Alan Prem Kumar, Principal Associate, was also presented the Graduate Student Mentor of the Year award.

Darren Tan, Masturah Rashid and Desi, PhD students in CSI, were awarded the Best Poster Presentation award at NUS’ Annual Graduate Students’ Congress 2017. The AGSC is an annual symposium organized by NUSMed, and offers a platform for graduates students from the School of Medicine to present the research work that they have undertaken as part of their graduate school journey.

Eve Wang and Shreya Kar, PhD students from Dr Alan Prem Kumar’s group attended the Global Breast Cancer Conference held in Jeju Island, South Korea. Eve received the Korean Breast Cancer Foundation Scholarship for Outstanding Oral Presentation, and Shreya received a Good Poster Award.

Prof Chng Wee Joo, Deputy Director, won the prestigious Singapore Translational Research (STaR) Award conferred by NMRC. The STaR Award recognized top notch scientists who have contributed significantly to the research field in Singapore.

Dr Anand Jeyasekharan and Dr David Tan, Principal Investigators at CSI Singapore, were awarded the Transition Award and Clinician-Scientist Award at the NMRC wards in 2017, to recognize their roles as successful clinicians as well as in research.

Tham Cheng Yong, PhD student from Dr Touati Benoukraf’s group, was selected to give an Oral Presentation at the 12th Great Lakes Bioinformatics Conference.

Hong Huiqi, PhD student from Dr Polly Chen’s group, was selected to give an oral presentation and received a travel award to present her research at the Heidelberg Forum for Young Life Scientists.

Ms Wang Chao, PhD student of Dr Alan Prem Kumar’s group, was awarded the People’s Choice Award at the McDonnell International Scholars Academy Symposium following her first achievement as the 1st runner up of the annual NUS Three Minute Thesis (3MT).
Ms Cai Wanpei, Phd student from Dr Alan Prem Kumar’s group, received the EMBO Travel Grant awarded during the EMBO Conference Wnt 2016. This meeting is an annual international conference that aims to provide a platform for scientists from all over the world to exchange their latest results and discuss new ideas and concepts on Wnt signal transduction.
Mr Leong Wei Zhong, Mr Patrick Jaynes, Dr Avinash Bahirvani, Dr Fang Yiwen, Dr Liu Bee Hui, Mr Azad Saei, Dr Tim Chan Hon Man and Ms Jane Anthony, students and staff of CSI Singapore have bagged awards including Best Oral Presentation and Best Poster Presentation from both categories of Basic Science and Translational Science. They received the awards at the 3rd NCIS Annual Research Meeting (NCAM) 2016.
Mr Thuya Win Lwin, CSI graduate student of Prof Goh Boon Cher’s group, was a recipient of the AAPS-NUS Best Poster Presentation Award at the PharmSci@Asia Symposium. The PharmSci@Asia Symposium is a joint annual symposium by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientist (AAPS) – NUS Student Chapter.
Dr Alan Prem Kumar, CSI Singapore Principal Associate, was selected to receive the Korean Breast Cancer Foundation Scholarship for his outstanding oral presentation and active participation in the Global Breast Cancer Conference 2016.
Ms Deepa Rajagopalan, Ms Regina Wong Wan Ju, Ms Wang Chao, PhD students and Dr Chin Wai Loon, staff of CSI Singapore accepted multiple awards from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YYLSoM) 6th Annual Graduate Scientific Congress 2016. The awards include 1st Runner-up Oral Presentation Award, Best Poster Awards and a Best Graduate Research Publication Award.
Ms Wang Chao’s poster presentation at the 13th Asia Pacific Federation of Pharmacologist Meeting (APFP 2016) was awarded with the Outstanding Poster Award. Her exceptional poster stood out amongst 208 poster presenters to receive this best award reserved for best presentation.
Ms Hong Huiqi, PhD student in Dr Polly Chen’s laboratory, was successfully nominated to attend the Global Young Scientists’ Summit (GYSS) @one-north. She was one of the highly motivated PhD students under 35 year old chosen internationally to attend GYSS@one-north, which is a prestigious international summit organized by National Research Foundation.
Ms Masturah Bte Mohd Abdul Rashid, PhD student under the supervision of Dr Edward Chow, received both the SLAS Tony B. Travel Award and SLAS 2016 Best Student Poster Award at the SLAS 2016 Conference. SLAS 2016 Conference is an annual gathering of life sciences R&D professionals and is highly participated by nearly 6300 participants.
Ms Cai Wanpei, PhD student from Dr Alan Prem Kumar’s laboratory group, participated in the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2015 and was awarded the highly competitive and prestigious Avon-AACR International Scholar-in-Training Travel Award.
Dr Bernadette Asuncion, Research Fellow under A/Prof Richie Soong’s group at CSI Singapore, was selected as a recipient of the Developing Nations Award at the 16th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC). This conference is the world’s largest meeting dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies.
Prof Patrick Tan and Prof Teh Bin Tean, Senior Principal Investigators at CSI Singapore, were awarded the prestigious President’s Science Award (PSA) by President Mr Tony Tan Keng Yam. They were presented the PSA in September 2015 for their outstanding integrative and translational research in Asian cancer genomics. Concurrently, Dr Yvonne Tay, Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore received the 2015 Young Scientist Award for her outstanding work on non-coding RNAs, which has contributed to a better understanding.
Ms Wang Xin, PhD Student from Dr Edward Chow’s group, won 1st prize of Best Paper Award at the Best of ASCO (BASCO) 2015. It is the 1st SSO Annual Scientific Meeting organized by the Singapore Society of Oncology from 31 July to 1 August 2015.
Mr Desmond Chin, Dr Jaymie Lin, Dr Kelly Ong, Ms Chen Ye, Dr Ruby Huang, Mr Rony Kurikese Roy, Dr Madhua Kulkami, Ms Xiao Jinfen and Dr Andrea Wong, CSI staff and graduate students were awarded multiple awards at the 2nd NCIS Annual Research Meeting (NCAM) 2015, co-organized by CSI Singapore, held at the NUHS Tower Block on 3 July 2015.
Mr Desmond Chin, PhD Graduate Student from A/Prof Motomi Osato’s group, won the Bronze Oral Presentation Award at the 6th JSH International Symposium 2015. This is an annual symposium organized by the Japanese Society of Hematology from 22-23 May 2015 in Japan.
Ms Cai Wanpei, PhD Student in Dr Alan Prem Kumar’s laboratory, received the Best Poster Award at the Science on the Swan Inaugural Conference 2015. Science on the Swan showcases the very best of medical science and health research in Western Australia (WA). The conference was held from 21-23 April in the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Perth, Western Australia.
Dr Touati Benoukraf, CSI Singapore Special Fellow, received the “Unique Presentation Award” at the HOPE Meeting 2015 organized annually by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). This award is one of the two awards conferred to the top presentations during the meeting.
Prof Peter Lobie, Senior Principal Investigator of CSI Singapore, has been invited to become a member of Molecular Endocrinology’s Editorial Board. This journal is well-regarded and highly ranked: it was ranked 23rd out of 121 journals within the category of Endocrinology & Metabolism, with an Impact Factor of 4.746 (2012 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report).
Prof Peter Lobie, Senior Principal Investigator of CSI Singapore, received the “President’s International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI) for Visiting Scientists” from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The CAS PIFI for Visiting Scientists aims to create or strengthen partnerships between the recipients’ home institution and CAS host institutions by supporting highly qualified scientists in cooperative projects at CAS-affiliated institutions.
Dr Pieter Eichhorn, CSI Singapore Principal Investigator was awarded the Inspiring Research Mentor Award by the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science (NUS High) in February 2015. This award was presented in recognition of his work in mentoring two NUS High students.
Dr Polly Chen and Dr Yvonne Tay, both Principal Investigators of CSI Singapore, were awarded the President’s Assistant Professorship (PAP) by the National University of Singapore, which aims to recognize Assistant Professors of very high calibre.
Mr Desmond Chin, Ms Wang Chao, Ms Meng Xuan, Mr Xu Liang, Ms Wang Xin and Mr Zhang Yanzhou, PhD Graduate Students of CSI Singapore were awarded multiple awards at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine 5th Annual Graduate Scientific Congress in 2015. This year’s congress theme was centred on “Decoding Science, Translating Medicine”. Our own PhD students have performed exceedingly well, garnering a number of top awards over various categories.
Dr Xie Zhigang, Research Fellow from A/Prof Chng Wee Joo’s laboratory received the ASH Abstract Achievement Award in 2014 from the American Society of Hematology. He had also been selected to give an oral presentation of the abstract at the 56th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco, held from 6-9 December 2014.
Dr Melissa Fullwood, Principal Investigator at CSI, has been conferred the Young Scientist Award (YSA) at the President’s Science and Technology Awards (PTSA). This award recognizes young researchers active in R&D and have demonstrated great potential to become world-class scientists in their fields of expertise.
Prof Peter Lobie, Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore has been awarded China’s Friendship Award, the nation’s highest honour for foreign experts. The award was presented by Vice-Premier Ma Kai at the historic Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 29 September 2014.
Ms Qi Lihua, PhD student from Prof Daniel Tenen’s laboratory, received a travel grant based on her submitted abstract from the Japanese Cancer Association (JCA) for the 73rd Annual Meeting held in Yokohama, Japan from 25-27 September 2014.
Ms Casuarine Low, attachment student at Dr Edward Chow’s laboratory was awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Prize AY2013/2014. The OURP is an annual university-wide competition to encourage research and to recognise the best undergraduate researchers in NUS.
Ms Yap Wei Ney, PhD student from Dr Alan Prem Kumar’s laboratory, received the Educational Fellowship Award from the European Academy of Dermatology Venereology (EADV). With this award, she attended the XV World Congress on Cancers of the Skin in Edinburgh on 3-6 September 2014.
Dr Wang Tingting received the 2014 Avon Foundation-AACR International Travel Grant. This award provides travel support to abstract presenters working on breast cancer or other female cancers travelling from other countries.
Mr Desmond Chin, Ms Lau Wai Hoe, Mr Xu Liang, Ms Phyllis Chong and Ms Jolene Ho, PhD students received multiple awards at the annual Graduate Scientific Congress 2014. The awards include Best Poster Presentation, Best Research Publication Award and Best International Graduate Research Publication and Oral Presentation Award.
Prof Daniel Tenen and Prof Toshio Suda were conferred one of Singapore’s top scientific research honour, the Singapore Translational Research (STaR) Investigator Award. The STaR is awarded to those possessing excellent and sustained track records of outstanding research in their respective fields.

CSI Singapore has promoted the integration of various local research bodies through the Frontiers in Cancer Science annual conferences in November each year which bring together some of the world’s top cancer experts to share the latest advancements in cancer research. Led by CSI Singapore, the conference is a combined effort with Duke-NUS GMS, GIS, NCCS, NCIS, IMCB, and NTU.

Dr Edward Chow and his team were involved in a study in ocllaboration with the Department of Physiology at NUSMed. In this exciting novel step, the team managed to grow tiny liver cancer tumours in a laboratory by using a scaffold made out of a plant-based hydrogel. Moreover, anti-cancer drugs can be tested on the tiny tumours, allowing scientists to see how effective the drugs are within a week or so, and this could hold the key to treating liver cancer, which is one of Singapore’s deadliest diseases. – The Straits’ Times

Dr Sudhakar Jha’s group identified a novel molecular pathway by which a tumour suppressor, TIP60, inhibits the growth of cancer cells. The team discovered that TIP60 inhibits telomerase by interacting with Sp1, which aids in producing more telomerase protein. The modified Sp1, which can no longer bind to the regulatory sequences of the telomerase gene to activate it, reduces the expression of telomerase thereby preventing the cancer cells from continuous division. The study the way for the development of new therapeutic strategies that could impede the spread of virus-induced cancers. – NUS News

A novel discovery by Dr Dennis Kappei and team discovered the role of the protein ZBTB48 in regulating both telomeres and mitochondria, which are key players involved in cellular ageing. The results of the study will contribute to a better understanding of the human ageing process as well as cancer development. – NUS News

Prof H Phillip Koeffler’s group published a paper in PNAS. They discovered that the BCL6 protein could potentially be used as a marker to predict clinical outcomes of patients suffering from Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the most malignant cancer of the brain. GBM patients with lower levels of the BCL6 protein exhibit a higher survival rate than those with high BCL6 expression. The study also suggests BCL6 as a possible target for GBM treatment – controlling the levels and activities of the BCL6 protein could potentially contribute to treatment of the disease. – NUS News

The research team led by Dr Takaomi Sanda provided new insights into the molecular mechanism affecting how genes are produced during normal T-cell development, and contributing to leukaemia formation. The team studied the protein TAL1, which is encoded by a cancer causing gene previously found to contribute to the development of T-ALL, and discovered that TAL1 activates a ‘molecular switch’ called a super-enhancer. This may result in T-cell precursors growing abnormally and not developing into functional T-cells in the body, leading to the development of T-ALL. – NUS News

Dr Edward Chow and his team developed a novel nanodiamond-based contrast agent – a chemical “dye” used to enhance the visibility of internal body structures in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – that improves visualisation of liver cancer tumours. The development of better and more sensitive imaging contributes towards detecting liver cancer and is crucial for planning for treatment. – NUS News

Dr Alan Prem Kumar, Principal Associate at CSI Singapore, has found that the enzyme MnSOD that helps breast cancer cells regulate their stress levels can also make them more aggressive. MnSOD is a major antioxidant protein especially essential for cancer cells to cope with their high oxidative stress. – 9 November 2016, Asian Scientist
Prof Patrick Tan and Dr Polly Chen, Senior Principal Investigator and Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore respectively, have collaborated together in this significant breakthrough of how changes in ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequences are closely linked to the development of gastric cancer. Additional research into this connection may potentially contribute towards earlier detection and better treatment of the deadly condition. – 19 September 2016, NUS News
Prof Richie Soong, Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, found that the mechanisms of acquired resistance (AQR) for the combination of drugs were different from that of the individual drugs. The findings from this study could potentially contribute to reducing AQR to combination drug treatment in cancer. – 6 September 2016, Biotechin.Asia
Prof Daniel Tenen, Director of CSI Singapore, and his team discovered that a protein called BMI1 could impair tumour growth in lung cancer. Reducing the levels of BMI1 by genetic means, or by using a drug reducing expression of BMI1, has led to inhibition of tumour formation. This finding would contribute to the development of better therapies for cancer patients. – 7 August 2016, The Financial Express
Prof Chng Wee Joo, Deputy Director and Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, came together with Prof Qiang Yu from A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) to understand how EZH2, a cancer promoting gene, is activated in breast cancer and lymphoma. The new findings pave the way to develop more effective treatment strategies for aggressive cancers associated with EZH2. – 18 July 2016, Health Care Asia Daily
Prof Yoshiaki Ito, CSI Singapore’s Senior Principal Investigator, has discovered that modifications to a protein called RUNX3 may promote cancer progression. Phosporylation of RUNX3 results in its relocation to centrosomes, the intracellular organelles that control the start of cell division. – 18 July 2016, News Medical
Prof H. Phillip Koeffler, Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, has identified a set of genes, including DNMT3A, that could potentially be used to predict clinical outcomes of patients who suffer from a type of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) associated with anFLT3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutation. – 8 July 2016, NUS News
Prof Daniel Tenen, Director of CSI Singapore, has found that the inactivation of C/EBPa protein, carried out by acetylation, reduces the ability of C/EBPa to bind to DNA and modulate its transcriptional activity in the cell. Identification of this molecular pathway provides clues towards targeting the GCN5-mediated acetylation of C/EBPa in the treatment of leukemia. – 29 March 2016, Science Daily
Prof Toshio Suda, Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore discovered that CLEC-2, a protein, is able to mediate the activity of the bone marrow where hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside and contributes to the bone marrow niche’s health. This study is the first to identify CLEC-2’s role in the regulation of Thpo production. – 25 February 2016, Asian Scientist
Prof Chng Wee Joo, Deputy Director and Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, found new promise in old cancer drug, PRIMA-1met in the treatment of colorectal cancer. This drug has been found to be effective in inhibiting the growth of colorectal cancer cells. In its next steps, they plan to test if the combination of PRIMA-1met with anticancer drugs will optimize the results of chemotherapy. – 8 January 2016, TODAY Online
Dr Pieter Eichhorn, Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, has delineated novel molecular interactions affecting the activity of the TGF- β pathway, a key cancer pathway in humans affecting cancer progression. The activation of this pathway can increase the growth of tumors by promoting cell invasion, activating cancer stem cells, and in some cases, promoting the spread of cancer. – 21 December 2015, Medical Xpress
CSI Singapore has set up a new $25million RNA Biology Centre, in an effort to combat cancer. Funded by the Ministry of Education, the centre will bring together 15 researchers from various fields, including bioinformatics and genomics from the National University of Singapore and other research institutions. – 4 December 2015, The Straits Times
Dr Sudhakar Jha, Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, has found that human papilloma virus (HPV) interacts with a protein called EDD1 to destabilize a tumor suppressor protein, which stops the formation of tumors. The study also showed that an increase in tumor suppressor protein called TIP60 could prevent the growth of cancer cells. – 4 December 2015, The Straits Times
Dr Edward Chow, Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, and his team have managed to make a common chemotherapy drug, epirubicin, more effective in targeting cancer stem cells. This drug is also smart enough to adhere only to cancerous cells, limiting the harmful side effects. – 26 January 2015, The Straits Times
A/Prof Chng Wee Joo, Deputy Director and Senior Principal Investigator at CSI Singapore, has found a connection between PRL-3 and STAT3 for the first time and showed that the STAT3-PRL-3 regulatory loop contributes to the development of AML. Furthermore, PRL-3 has the potential to be used as a biomarker in personalised therapy for AML patients. – 12 January 2015, Science Daily