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Professor Hong Wanjin receives President's Science & Technology Medal

“For his outstanding contributions in building up the biomedical sciences research ecosystem in Singapore, particularly through strengthening public sector, academic and clinical research partnerships, nurturing scientific talent, and promoting innovation to support Singapore’s economic development.”

Photo credit: Agency for Science, Technology and Research

An internationally renowned leader in molecular and cell biology, Professor Hong currently serves as Executive Director at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR) Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), and a Professor of Biochemistry at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Professor Hong has dedicated over 30 years of his career to supporting the development of Singapore’s biomedical research ecosystem. In addition to pushing scientific excellence at IMCB, he has forged strong ties with institutes of higher learning, hospitals, academic medical centers and industry partners. He has also nurtured many local researchers, who have gone on to become a critical part of Singapore’s scientific talent pool today.

Prof Hong joined IMCB in 1989, before it became an autonomous research institute under A*STAR, and was appointed Executive Director in 2011. Under his leadership, IMCB fostered strong collaborative relationships with the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), SingHealth, Duke-NUS Medical School, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and NUS. He also set up joint programs like the IMCB NCCS Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) Singapore Oncogenome Laboratory and SingHealth @ IMCB Fellows. These efforts have facilitated greater knowledge exchange and the translation of scientific discoveries to deliver better benefits to patients.

Under Prof Hong’s leadership, IMCB has spun out 15 companies over the past seven years, and established joint laboratories with biotechnology companies like Tessa Therapeutics and LionTCR. Prof Hong has also played an active role in nurturing young scientists. Under his leadership, 17 scientists have been conferred prestigious national accolades and achievements including Young Scientist Awards and National Research Foundation Fellowships. Others have gone on to become scientific entrepreneurs and university faculty members, contributing to better healthcare and social outcomes for Singapore.

During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Singapore, Prof Hong oversaw IMCB researchers in the development of two antibody-based tests to diagnose SARS, and received a National Day Award for contributing to combating and containing the disease. He also established a collaborative anti-viral research lab together with Baxter Vaccines and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Prof Hong has contributed significantly to the global scientific community’s understanding of membrane transport in the secretory and endocytic pathways, and the Hippo signaling pathway in human cancer. His contributions extend to editorial board appointments for top scientific journals like the journal of Biological Chemistry, Traffic, and Science Signalling, and has been consistently invited to speak at international scientific symposia by Keystone and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Prof Hong’s research has resulted in more than 300 peer-reviewed publications which have garnered over 27,000 citations internationally. He is a National Science Award winner (1999) and the recipient of many other prestigious awards including the CUSBEA Fellow (1983) and the 19th A-IMBN Arthur Kornberg Memorial Lecture Award (2016). This year, he was conferred the prestigious Singapore National Academy of Science Fellowship.

Prof Hong has held leadership positions in leading scientific associations, such as the President of the Science Council of Asia and member of the Board of Trustees for the Human Frontier Science Program. He has also held a range of local and international appointments on review and award selection panels.


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