President’s Science & Technology Award awarded to Sir David Lane and Prof Edward Holmes for advancing Singapore’s excellence in Science & Technology

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Four individuals have been awarded this year’s President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA), the highest honours conferred upon research scientists and engineers in Singapore whose work have resulted in significant scientific, technological or economic benefits for the country.

The PSTA comprises the President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM), President’s Science Award (PSA), and President’s Technology Award (PTA). The winners were felicitated today at Istana where they received their awards from President Halimah Yacob.

Two eminent individuals were chosen as this year’s PSTM winners by a distinguished panel of representatives from industry, academia, and research. Professor Sir David Philip Lane, Chief Scientist of A*STAR and Professor Edward Warren Holmes from the Department of Medicine at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine; Senior Fellow at A*STAR and Advisor for the National Research Foundation (NRF) were conferred this prestigious honour this year.

Professor Edward Holmes was awarded for his pioneering work in developing the human capital, programmes and infrastructure that galvanized translational and clinical research (TCR) in Singapore’s health and biomedical sciences (HBMS) ecosystem. While acknowledging the award, Prof Holmes said, “You get to improve the health of human beings. There is nothing better than that.”

Sir David Lane has played an important role in the strategic development of Singapore’s biomedical sciences and has played a leadership role in the development of Singapore’s R & D culture and infrastructure through various roles he held in A*STAR. He also founded and heads the p53 laboratory at A*STAR. He played a significant role in the landmark discovery of the p53 oncogene in 1979 and nearly three decades of subsequent research has brought p53 all the way from basic discovery through to the clinic. This discovery has led to the identification of several promising targets for developing new cancer drugs, one of which is the utilization of antibodies and peptides to interrogate cancer targets.

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This year’s PSA was awarded to Professor Gan Wee Teck, Distinguished Professor at the Department of Mathematics under NUS Faculty of Science, and the PTA was awarded to Professor Ng Wun Jern from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

Prof Gan, an internationally recognized member of the mathematics fraternity is considered to be a world leader in the fields of number theory and representation theory. His work on the Langlands programme, one of the most actively pursued areas of contemporary mathematics, and the Gan-Gross-Prasad conjecture has helped to link the two mathematical fields of number theory and representation theory, thereby allowing mathematicians to use elements from number theory to solve problems related to representation theory and vice versa. His achievement has been lauded as groundbreaking and a step forward in the field of mathematics.

Prog Ng Wun Jern, is recognized for his outstanding work in environmental engineering and in particular, the development of transient-state cyclic sequencing batch reactor (SBR) technology. This technology facilitated the design and construction of compact, efficient wastewater treatment plants, significantly reducing the size of reacting systems by more than half. His research provided the scientific understanding of the transient-state condition, while his translational engineering resulted in three generations of technologies which have been deployed at full-scale- internationally and domestically. The research, Engineering, and subsequent industry applications have helped to establish Singapore as a key player in the world of cyclic bioreactors and environmental engineering.

Three outstanding young individuals were also recognized with the “Young Scientist Award” (YSA) for their achievements in research and innovation. They are: Dr Li Jingmei, Senior Research Scientist at the Genome Institute of Singapore, A*STAR; Dr Gao Weibo, Assistant Professor, from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, NTU Singapore; and Dr Justin C.W. Song, Scientist at the Institute of High-Performance Computing, A*STAR.

Dr Jingmei Li’s research focusses on genetic differences that show who is likely to get breast cancer and who is not. She aims to discover novel susceptibility markets and mechanisms, which may lead to finding new treatment options for the disease.

They received their awards from Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance, at the Istana today.