Cambridge-based Malaysian again wins prestigious award for cancer research, this time from UK’s Royal Society

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — UK-based Malaysian scientist Dr Serena Nik-Zainal has once again been recognised for her efforts in cancer research, this time being awarded the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture 2022.

According to the UK’s Royal Society, Dr Serena’s latest award was accorded to her for “enormous contributions” to the understanding of the causes of cancers, through her analyses of mutation signatures in cancer genomes, which is now being applied to cancer therapy.

In a statement yesterday, the Royal Society said Dr Serena will deliver her prize lecture next year, where she will receive a bronze medal and a gift of £2,000 (RM11,500).

“Thank you to all that have taught, supported, pushed and mentored me. So appreciative!

“My wonderful team, this is for us!” she said.

Although the Royal Society did not mention which specific work had won her the award, it is noteworthy that one of Dr Serena’s most recent works involved an “algorithm classifier” called MMRDetect.

“The MMRDetect clinical algorithm makes it possible to identify tumours that have ‘mismatch repair deficiencies’ and then improve the personalisation of cancer therapies to exploit those weaknesses,” read a University of Cambridge news release dated April 27.

According to her biography on the Cambridge website, Dr Serena is an advanced clinician scientist and an honorary consultant in Clinical Genetics.

She qualified in medicine from the University of Cambridge in 2000 on a scholarship from Petronas.

After that, she pursued post-graduate studies at the Wellcome Sanger Institute (WSI) in 2009 exploring breast cancer using whole genome sequencing (WGS).

She was subsequently awarded a CRUK Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship in 2017 before moving to the University of Cambridge.

In 2019, she was honoured with the Dr Josef Steiner Cancer Research Prize 2019, which some have dubbed the “Nobel Prize for Cancer Research”.

The Francis Crick Medal and Lecture is awarded annually in any field in the biological sciences.

It said that the preference is given to genetics, molecular biology and neurobiology, the general areas in which Francis Crick worked, and to fundamental theoretical work, which was the hallmark of Crick’s science.

Crick was a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist who is best known as the co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953.


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