Setting up of N²RTU for knowledge and technology transfer in nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics

The inception ceremony of the Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics Research and Training Unit (N²RTU) was held at UTAR Sungai Long Campus on 16 February 2022. The event was held in a hybrid mode with participants across the globe joining simultaneously via Zoom. 


Front row, from left: Prof Faidz, Datuk Mohd Yusoff, Kuek and Prof Vimal
Back row, from left: Dr Anto, Dr Mahenderan, Dr Mohd Fairulnizal, Dr Yong and Dr Eddy Cheah

Present at the ceremony were Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) President/CEO Datuk Dr Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman; Vice President Ida Semurni Abdullah Ali; UTAR Vice President (R&D and Commercialisation) Prof Ts Dr Faidz bin Abd Rahman; Head of Newton Fund and Science British Council, Malaysia Kuek Yen Sim; University of Reading Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) Deputy Director Prof Vimal Karani S.; Head of Nutrition, Metabolic & Cardiovascular Research Centre (NMCRC), Institute for Medical Research (IMR), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Mohd Fairulnizal Md Noh; Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM) Vice President Dr Mahenderan Appukutty; UTAR Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research (IPSR) Director Assoc Prof Dr Yong  Thian Khok; Centre for Biomedical and Nutrition Research (CBNR) Dr Chairperson Eddy Cheah Seong Guan; Principal Investigator (PI) from UTAR Faculty of Science (FSc) Dr Anto Cordelia Tanislaus Antony Dhanapal; esteemed guests from the University of Reading (United Kingdom), MIGHT, British Council Malaysia, MoH, NSM and UTAR staff. Also joining the inception ceremony via ZOOM were University of Reading (United Kingdom) Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) Paul Inman and University of Reading (United Kingdom) IFNH Director Prof Ian Givens.

Datuk Mohd Yusoff hitting the gong to inaugurate the ceremony

Speaking about the importance of partnership and choosing the right partner, Datuk Mohd Yusoff said in his speech, “All in all, I think this partnership arrangement is very important for all of us. I hope we will continue to nurture it further.”

Prof Faidz said, “We believe N²RTU will be able to strengthen Malaysian researchers and healthcare practitioners to undertake nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics research in the areas of disease prevention and treatment.”

From left: Prof Faidz and Datuk Mohd Yusoff delivering their speech

Paul Inman, on the other hand, expressed his hope to build on this partnership. He also conveyed his intention to continue follow-up on this project. Moreover, he also spoke about the importance of having live labs and research labs in our respective countries.

Prof Ian Givens mentioned that he was pleased about this project in his remarks. He said, “This partnership is really important to us. It gives us new opportunities to have interaction, and it allows the exchange of new information between partners.”

British Council Malaysia Country Director Jezreel Goh said that she is extremely proud to be part of this exciting journey by funding this Malaysian-UK collaborative project. She hopes that this training unit will chart a new milestone in Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics research in Malaysia.

The event also featured a talk titled “Paving the Way to Precision Nutrition through Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics in Malaysia” which was presented by Prof Vimal Karani.

In the talk, Prof Vimal gave a brief overview of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics. According to Prof Vimal, nutrigenetics is defined as the science that studies the effect of genetic variation on dietary response. Nutrigenomics, on the other hand, is the study of how genes and nutrients interact at the molecular level.

He mentioned that many studies have shown that it is the interaction between genetics and lifestyle factors that contributes to the development of cardiometabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. “Even if you have a high genetic risk, you can still overcome that genetic risk by modifying your lifestyle which is your diet and your physical activity,” he said.

He explained that the findings from Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics are essential for the implementation of personalised nutrition. Personalised nutrition refers to a way of developing an optimum diet for an individual based on that individual’s genetic make-up.

Prof Vimal giving a brief overview about nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics

A sharing session on the goals, objectives and research areas of N²RTU under CBNR was also delivered by Dr Eddy Cheah during the event. “The implementation of N²RTU is a significant step toward our ambition. Despite the obstacle of the pandemic, CBNR has been fruitful and eventful, attributed to the hard work of our dedicated members. We are motivated by the research achievements made today,” he said.


Dr Anto, on the other hand, said, “The main objective of the N²RTU is to strengthen partnerships and capital building with the transfer of technology and knowledge on nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics research.” She also mentioned that she looks forward to expanding the unit and exploring collaboration with partner countries. “I hope, with the support of all collaborative partners, we can take this to the next level and succeed to move toward precision nutrition,” she said.


Clockwise from left: Dr Eddy Cheah, Dr Anto, Dr Mohd Fairulnizal, Dr Yong, Dr Mahenderan and Kuek

Furthermore, a short speech was also given by Kuek, Dr Mohd Fairulnizal and Dr Mahenderan Appukutty respectively to congratulate the implementation of N²RTU. The event then continued with a closing remark by Dr Yong, in which he offered his sincere gratitude for all the support given to succeed the initiative. Before the event ended, Dr Anto Cordelia gave a vote of thanks to the organising team, partners, distinguished guests and participants for their time and effort in making the event a success.

N²RTU is the first of its kind in Malaysia with a focus on knowledge and technology transfer in the emerging field of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics via research and training. It was set up under UTAR Centre for Biomedical and Nutrition Research (CBNR), in collaboration with the University of Reading, with the MoH and NSM as associate partners. CBNR received the prestigious British Council Research Environmental Links (BC-REL) grant to implement N²RTU in Malaysia as part of the Going Global Partnership initiative by the British Council with the support of MIGHT, the Malaysian partner to the British Council.

The N²RTU is led by UTAR Dr Anto Cordelia and the UK-PI and Deputy Director of IFNH at the University of Reading Prof Vimal Karani. Joining them from Malaysia are co-investigators, CBNR Chairperson Dr Eddy Cheah Seong Guan, FSc Deputy Dean (R&D and Postgraduate Programmes) Dr Phoon Lee Quen, and FSc academic Dr Annaletchumy Loganathan, with associate partners, namely Head of Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Research Centre (NMCRC) of IMR, NIH, MoH Dr Mohd Fairulnizal Md Noh and NSM Vice President Dr Mahenderan Appukutty. From the University of Reading (United Kingdom), Prof Vimal Karani will be joined by IFNH Director Prof Ian Givens.

The N²RTU inception ceremony was attended by (seated, front row from left) Dr Eddy Cheah, Dr Yong, Dr Mohd Fairulnizal, Prof Vimal, Datuk Mohd Yusoff, Prof Faidz, Kuek, Dr Mahenderan and Dr Anto, along with esteemed guests from University of Reading (United Kingdom), MIGHT, British Council Malaysia, MoH, NSM and UTAR

Wholly owned by UTAR Education Foundation (200201010564(578227-M))        LEGAL STATEMENT   TERM OF USAGE   PRIVACY NOTICE