UTAR scientist meets 24 Nobel laureates

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Assistant Professor Dr Loh Han Chern was one of the five Malaysians selected by Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) to attend the 61st Meeting of Nobel Laureates with Young Scientists in Lindau, Germany from 26 June to 1 July 2011.

In the meeting, which was an informal forum organised under the ASM Lindau Programme, the five Malaysians were among about 570 young scientists in the physiology and medical fields across the globe who had the privilege to rub shoulders with 24 Nobel laureates.

"I felt very excited knowing I would be attending such prestigious meeting with Nobel laureates," said Dr Loh, adding that she was the first from a private institution of higher learning in Malaysia ever selected for the meeting.

"I count it as a true blessing for me," she added and thanked UTAR Vice President (R&D and Commercialisation) Professor Dr Lee Sze Wei and Deputy Dean of the UTAR Faculty of Engineering and Science Associate Professor Dr Goi Bok Min for nominating her for the ASM Lindau Programme.

Attached with the Department of Chemical Engineering, Dr Loh is actively involved in Neuroscience studies on identifying potential chemical markers of Schizophrenia, a complex multi-factorial mental disorder that causes psychiatric morbidity. The condition affects one percent of the world population and everyone has 0.7 percent risk of developing it in their lifetime.

Dr Loh, who received her Bachelor's, Master's and PhD degrees from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and won six international awards, said that it was truly inspiring to have talked with the great minds about their cutting-edge research and personal lives and she would cherish the incredible moments lifelong. The informal forum had inspired her in making further innovative discoveries in Schizophrenia research and broadened her international collaborative network to include the newly acquainted Nobel laureates and young scientists from all over the world.

The others selected by ASM to attend the meeting were Dr Ling King Hwa (Universiti Putra Malaysia), Dr Jayanthi Maniam (Universiti Malaysia Sabah), Dr Mohd Izzuddin Hairol (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) and Wee Siang Teo (University of New South Wales, Australia).

"ASM shortlists the eligible candidates at national level before they are accepted by the Lindau Council and Foundation, which has been organising the programme since 1952," said the ASM Medical and Health Sciences Discipline Group Chairman Professor Datuk Dr Khalid Yusoff, adding that the delegation was selected based on not only their expertise but also their communication skills.

Dr Loh (third from left) with her research team


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