18 April 2013 -- Dr Patrick Tan from A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) has received the 2013 Chen New Investigator Award from the international Human Genome Organisation (HUGO). This award is given to scientists who have made significant contributions to their respective fields of human genetic and genomic research during their early career years, normally within 15 years from receiving their highest earned degree.
In awarding the prize, the Award Review Committee which comprises an international make-up of acclaimed scientists from countries including Canada, India, Japan, Switzerland and the USA commended Dr Tan for his outstanding education background and excellent publication record. They recognized his significant contributions through his research on genomic profiles of Asian cancers. The committee also praised him on his longstanding body of work in cancer genomics, with a particular focus on gastric cancer, and commented that his momentum appeared to be on an impressive upward trajectory.
The award will be presented at the annual meeting of HUGO, which runs from 13th through 18th April 2013 at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore. In addition to the New Investigator Award, the Chen Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in Human Genetic and Genomic Research will also be presented at the meeting.
A graduate of Harvard University and Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr Tan’s research laboratory focuses on developing genomic approaches to unlock the molecular and clinical diversity of gastric cancer. Much of his work is concerned with developing methods to differentiate and group gastric cancer patients based on their molecular profiles, and identifying the genes required for cancer to develop in each of these groups so that therapeutic treatments can be tailor-made for each specific group.
Dr Tan is also currently leading POLARIS (Personalized OMIC Lattice for Advanced Research and Improving Stratification), a consortium of multiple A*STAR Research Institutes and public healthcare centres that is driving Singapore’s concerted effort to venture into stratified medicine. Besides identifying new biomarkers and technology for personalized treatment, POLARIS will also embark on education, outreach and engagement efforts.
In addition to his appointment in GIS, Dr Tan is also a Professor in the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, and a Senior Principal Investigator at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Dr Tan said, “I am deeply humbled and grateful to receive the Chen Award. This honour would not have been possible without the tireless support of my research team and our many collaborators throughout Singapore. We will redouble our efforts to translate our discoveries into applications that significantly improve health outcomes for patients in Singapore and the region.”
GIS Executive Director Prof Ng Huck Hui said, “GIS is truly honoured by the recognition given to Patrick for all the important work he does in Singapore. In recent years, stratified oncology and personalized medicine have become significantly important because we want to make sure that each patient receives the best and most suitable therapeutic options available. Also, with the set-up of POLARIS under Dr Tan’s leadership, there will be even closer collaborations with other research entities and clinicians toward this end. We are extremely proud of his achievements.”
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About the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS)
The Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) is an institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). It has a global vision that seeks to use genomic sciences to improve public health and public prosperity. Established in 2001 as a centre for genomic discovery, the GIS will pursue the integration of technology, genetics and biology towards the goal of individualized medicine.
The key research areas at the GIS include Systems Biology, Stem Cell & Developmental Biology, Cancer Biology & Pharmacology, Human Genetics, Infectious Diseases, Genomic Technologies, and Computational & Mathematical Biology. The genomics infrastructure at the GIS is utilized to train new scientific talent, to function as a bridge for academic and industrial research, and to explore scientific questions of high impact.
About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.
In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore’s manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.
A*STAR oversees 20 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR’s research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories.
About the Chen Award
The Chen Award was set up by Professor Yuan-Tsong (Y-T) Chen and Mrs. Alice Der-Shan Chen, who were both originally from Taiwan and have been committed to biomedical research for over 30 years. They recognise the tremendous impact that genetics and genomics have had on the improvement of health and treatment of diseases and wish to establish the Chen Award to celebrate research accomplishments in Human Genetics and Genomics in Asia Pacific. Professor Chen received his MD degree from National Taiwan University (Taipei) and a PhD from Columbia University (USA). He is currently a Distinguished Research Fellow and Director of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics at Duke University Medical Center (USA).
Professor Chen is a physician/scientist, recognised for his work on human genetic disorders. His translational research leads to the development of now standard therapies for two devastating inherited metabolic diseases: a simple and effective cornstarch therapy for severe hypoglycemia in glycogen storage diseases and an enzyme replacement therapy, the first ever treatment, for a debilitating, progressive and often fatal myopathy called Pompe disease. Professor Chen has also identified the genetic basis of and developed DNA-based diagnosis for several major heritable diseases, and more recently, his team in Taiwan has uncovered genes/SNPs associated with drug-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome and warfarin sensitivity.
His latest pharmacogenomic studies of adverse drug reactions paved the way for personalised medicine by preventing drug toxicity with a gene test. Professor Chen is an elected member of Academia Sinica and of the Academy Sciences for the Developing World.