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IMU Lecturer and Researcher Receives Award for her Work on Potential Treatments for Common Brain Diseases

28 Aug 2023

Mak Kit Kay, a dedicated lecturer from the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department at the School of Pharmacy, has achieved an extraordinary accomplishment. While pursuing her PhD in Medical and Health Sciences, specialising in Medicinal Chemistry at IMU, she authored eight research papers in Scopus-indexed journals. Among these papers, one has been honoured with the esteemed TienTe Lee Biomedical Foundation – YSP Southeast Asia Holding Bhd (TLBF-YSP SAH) Excellent Scientific Paper Award for 2023.


Mak, who is also a talented researcher, has been recognised with a prestigious award for her groundbreaking work on potential treatments for common brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. Her research is centred around a natural substance found in ginger called 6-Shogaol.

Mak has developed new ways to design and create drug-like molecules, using a blend of artificial intelligence and computer-aided drug discovery techniques. This innovative approach uses environmentally friendly methods, including a new green catalyst, to make variations of 6-Shogaol, a bioactive compound in ginger.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the prestigious TienTe Lee Biomedical Foundation – Y.S.P. SAH Excellent Scientific Paper Award for 2023. This recognition is a personal milestone and a symbol of what we can achieve through dedicated scientific pursuits. My dream extends beyond my research; I aspire to share my passion for science with students, colleagues, and the wider community. Together, we can harness the power of scientific discovery to enhance healthy living and make a meaningful difference in people’s lives worldwide.”

The award recognises Mak’s significant academic impact, the promising applications of her research findings to the biomedical industry, her exemplary attitude towards research, and the potential of her ongoing work.


IMU proudly celebrates Mak Kit Kay’s achievements, reflecting the institution’s commitment to fostering excellence in research and education. Her work stands as a beacon of inspiration and a testament to the global impact that dedicated scientific inquiry can have on the advancement of medicine.


Mak will be honoured at ‘The 19th Tien Te Lee Biomedical Awards’ ceremony in Taipei on 12 December 2023. This prestigious award, open to PhD candidates from Malaysia and Singapore, is granted to only two recipients yearly. Along with the accolades of a trophy and certificate, the award includes a cash prize and a return ticket from Malaysia to Taiwan for the ceremony.

Why is this Work So Important?

As we age, our risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases increases. In Malaysia, by 2030, 15% of adults will be over the age of 60. With this growing older population, more and more people are expected to face these challenging diseases. Sadly, the current treatments are far from what’s needed, leaving a significant gap in care.


Mak’s research is helping to bridge this gap. Her newly developed compounds have shown encouraging results that could one day lead to better treatments for these debilitating conditions. This means her work can potentially improve the quality of life for people in Malaysia and around the world.

Guided by her principal supervisor, Prof Dr Pichika Mallikarjuna Rao, Mak’s achievements reflect a promising step forward in the global fight against neurodegenerative diseases. Her research symbolises the innovative spirit and dedication to healthy living that our University proudly supports.

Building on her impressive research, Mak’s academic journey and accolades are equally remarkable. An alumna of our University, she holds a BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and an MSc in Medical and Health Sciences, specialising in Medicinal Chemistry. Her expertise in this field has fueled her groundbreaking work and earned her numerous national and international recognitions.


Among her many honours, Mak was among the top three contestants in the BiosolveIT International Scientific Challenge in Germany and received the Atomwise Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screening Award (AIMS) in the USA. She was granted a scholarship from the Wellcome Trust for specialised training in drug discovery at the University of Dundee. She received support from esteemed organisations like the RSC and DMDG.


In 2021, she was a finalist in the Young Scientist Network-Academy of Science Malaysia (YSN-ASM) Chrysalis Award and the British Council’s Fame Lab competition, reflecting her growing stature as a leading young scientist.


Mak’s prolific research output includes 37 published research papers that have collectively achieved an impact factor of 121.5 and received 1035 citations, with an H-index of 13. These impressive figures are a testament to her contributions to the scientific community and her dedication to advancing medicinal chemistry.


With her earlier work on neurodegenerative diseases, Mak’s achievements represent a shining example of our University’s innovative spirit and commitment to excellence. Her journey from student to accomplished researcher inspires all and underscores the potential of dedicated scientific inquiry to make a tangible difference in people’s lives.

About the Award

Founded in Taiwan in 2005, the Tien Te Lee Biomedical Foundation (TLBF) is committed to advancing medical education and research and celebrating outstanding medical researchers. In collaboration with YSP Southeast Asia Holding Berhad (YSP SAH), a prominent Pharmaceutical Company based in Malaysia, TLBF grants the esteemed TienTe Lee Biomedical Foundation – YSP Southeast Asia Holding Bhd (TLBF-YSP SAH) Excellent Scientific Paper Award under the ‘Southeast Asia Outstanding Paper Award’ category.

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