Malaysian scientist offers hope to kidney patients

Hooi Sian Eng

Hooi Sian Eng
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Thursday, 18 March 2010

When award-winning Malaysian researcher Hooi Sian Eng steps onto the podium in Singapore this Saturday to receive her PhD in Medicine from the University of Adelaide, it will be another step forward in an impressive career.

The 31-year-old has crisscrossed the world in the past seven years to fulfil her medical ambitions.

Along the way Dr Eng has won a Malaysian National Science Fellowship, an Endeavour Award and the prestigious international Top 10 Young Investigator Award from The Transplantation Society for her biomedical research.

Her focus - helping to improve kidney transplant outcomes - has now led to a postdoctoral research position at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Immunogenetics Laboratory in Baltimore, USA.

The laboratory is world-renowned for its state-of-the-art technology in facilitating organ transplantation and for its research into the body's natural defence system.

Approximately 35% of kidney grafts may experience complication after transplantation, Dr Eng says.

"My research is looking at ways to predict the body's immune response to help reduce rejection of kidney transplants," Dr Eng says. "The aim is to design a testing algorithm which can accurately predict the most suitable donors for patients prior to transplantation."

"Like most countries, Malaysia has a shortage of organ donors. We also need to find new technology, more accurate diagnosis and better treatment options which improve the rejection rates. A good transplant laboratory plays an important part in this issue."

Many Malaysians requiring renal transplants travel overseas each year for the operation, Dr Eng says. "This underscores the problem that exists in Malaysia with the lack of both living and deceased donors."

Dr Eng was born in Penang and received a KUOK Foundation Scholarship to pursue a Biomedical Science degree at the University of Malaya, where she graduated with Honours in 2003.

In 2006 she won an Endeavour Award and a University of Adelaide Scholarship to complete her PhD in Transplantation Immunology at the University of Adelaide.

This weekend Dr Eng will fly to Singapore to receive her parchment for her PhD, along with 192 other students who will graduate from the University of Adelaide at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre.


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