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IMU Researchers Secured Grants of RM 819,660 under FRGS

08 Jan 2015

Researchers from the International Medical University (IMU) secured a total of RM 819,660 in grants under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS). The grants are for six proposals submitted by researchers which have been approved by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) under phase 2/2014 of the FRGS grant. With the award of the grants, the University is confident that its researchers will contribute to fulfilling the nation’s aspirations to excel in fundamental research. The six recipients of these grants are Prof Chu Wan Loy, Prof Allan Pau Kah Heng, Dr Mayuren Candasamy, Dr Felicia Chung Fei Lei, Dr Yam Wai Keat and A/Prof Ng Chew Hee.

A recipient of the grant and Dean of School of Postgraduate Studies, Prof Chu Wan Loy, will be conducting toxicity testing of pesticides (eg atrazine and endosulfan) on algae isolated from various habitats in Malaysia. The study aims to assess how algae respond to pesticide toxicity when there is enrichment of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilisers, which may trigger algae bloom (eutrophication). The findings will contribute to the understanding of the response and adaptive mechanisms of algae to pesticide toxicity and also the development of toxicity test kits for pesticides based on algae.

Another recipient of this grant and a Professor from the Division of Dentistry, Prof Allan Pau and his team proposed a community trial study to investigate the effectiveness of a dental health visiting service in caries control in young children. The team also further proposed to investigate the role of family functioning of young children in the effectiveness of the intervention. This study will be conducted in collaboration with the National Oral Health of Pre-school Survey (NOHPS) which is a national survey of the oral health of 5-year-olds taking place every 10 years. Dr Mayuren is a lecturer attached to the Division of Life Sciences. He will be investigating on the effects of madecassoside on diabetes. Madecassoside is an antioxidant belonging to the class of triterpenoids and is reported to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Dr Mayuren and his team proposed to investigate the mechanisms underlying this effect, particularly on the mechanisms involved in the reduction of blood glucose. The investigation will be conducted by testing synthetically derived madecassoside on diabetic rat model.

Another lecturer, Dr Felicia Chung, will be studying on the functional roles of PAK4 gene and its mechanism underlying oral cancer. Dr Felicia and team proposed that PAK4 plays a key role in driving cell growth, survival and invasion, and also preventing oral cancer cell proliferation and repressing the onset of the spread of the cancer. Results from this study will provide a comprehensive understanding of PAK4 function in pathogenesis and progression of oral cancer, providing a potential novel target for the treatment of the disease.

A/Prof Ng Chew Hee is a lecturer from the Division of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He will be studying on the synthesis, characterisation, and factors affecting the properties of AuNP-{linker-[Zn(II)(FL-ligand)(aa)x](NO3)m}n conjugates. Nanogold particles (AuNPs) are nanoparticles (NPs) which are particles with the sizes in the range of units to hundreds of nanometres. A/Prof Ng is investigating particularly on the anticancer properties of AuNPs when combined with zinc metal.

Another lecturer in the same School, Dr Yam Wai Keat, is studying on the antitumor effect of SF3B1 which is a protein involved in joining DNA strands (splicing activity). The results will provide fundamental understanding of the regulation of the tumor-specific effect of SF3B1. This will contribute to future development in the preclinical and clinical setting for the treatment of cancers.

The FRGS aims to support fundamental research that generates new theory, concept, and idea for knowledge enhancement. It involves the exploration of new ideas, concepts or theories which will be the backbone to new discoveries, expansion of knowledge and sophisticated and state of the art inventions. In this respect, under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (RMK-9), the Ministry of Education (MOE) has allocated RM200 million to fund fundamental research projects in Higher Education Institutions. The fundamental research project is generally classified into six areas, namely Pure Science, Applied Science, Social Sciences and Literature, Medical Science, Technology and Engineering, and Natural Science and National Heritage. With the award of the grants, we are confident that IMU researchers will contribute to fulfilling the nation’s aspirations to excel in fundamental research.

Congratulations to all the Principal Investigators and their team members!

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