6 Sep 2017 IMU Researchers Secured Grant for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Dr Mai Chun Wai, a lecturer from the School of Pharmacy, International Medical University (IMU), recently secured RM146,916.00 under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) for a research project titled “Mechanistic Basis of Tumour Evasion from Cytotoxic T Cells (CTL) Surveillance in Pancreatic Cancers”. The primary aim of this project is to investigate how the notorious pancreatic cancer cells can escape from a human’s normal immune cells.

Despite the ongoing efforts in the development of new therapies against cancer, the treatment outcome for pancreatic cancer is still very poor. With the recent progress in targeting the host’s immune system which is the body’s natural defence system, there are glimmers of hope with more new immune targets being identified each year. These advancements are moving from the bench to the bedside at a rapid pace, with the hope of being implemented in clinical practice for better clinical outcomes. However, there still remains much to be learnt about pancreatic cancer and how our immune system fails to eradicate the cancer cells.

The study is a collaborative effort between Dr Mai and an international renowned immunologist, Prof Clare Bryant from the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and other renowned national researchers including Prof Rozita Rosli (Universiti Putra Malaysia), Associate Prof Ivy Chung (Universiti Malaya), Associate Prof Liew Siaw Cheok (Perdana University-Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), Dr. Pawel Suwinski (Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad), Prof Leong Chee Onn, Associate Prof Wong Shew Fung and Dr Felicia Chung from IMU.

The FRGS is awarded by the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) to promote basic research that can develop theories, concepts, and new ideas towards knowledge development. Such research serves as the backbone to new discoveries and innovative creations contributing towards increasing intellectual level, creation of new technologies, and enriching a dynamic culture in line with our national aspiration.

The research team has previously secured other competitive grants in identifying novel cancer targets in other cancers as well. The team is grateful to the funding body and also the IMU Institute Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI) for the facilities and support as well as to IRDI’s Cancer and Stem Cells Centre for the critical review prior to the submission.

About Dr Mai Chun Wai 
Dr Mai Chun Wai graduated with First Class Honours and Dean’s List from the IMU Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) in 2009. He was the recipient of Sanofi-Aventis Award and Kotra Pharma Award for excellence in research and pharmaceutical technology, respectively, in the graduating class. He was also awarded the IMU Young Alumnus Award 2012. Chun Wai graduated with PhD in Medical and Health Sciences (By Research) from IMU in 2014. In view of his outstanding performance in research, Chun Wai is also the best posters or oral presenters in several national and international conferences. He is actively participating in several projects with national research grants. His research findings are also available in international scientific papers. He was the recipient of the Southeast Asia-European Union-NET II (SEA-EU-NET II) Fellowship 2016 (the only Malaysian, and one of the 6 Asians), United Kingdom Royal Society of Chemistry Research Mobility Award 2016 (the only Malaysian), United Kingdom Researcher Mobility in Drug Discovery 2015 (the only Malaysian), and Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation (YPASM) Research Fellowship 2015 (one of the two selected Malaysians).

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