TOP RESEARCH AND INNOVATION TALENT HONOURED FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO SINGAPORE’S GROWTH AND SUCCESS

Singapore, 16 Sept 2015 – Singapore – Five top scientists and engineers were awarded the President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA) by President Tony Tan Keng Yam today, in recognition of their achievements in the field of science and technology to advance Singapore’s long-term growth and sustainability.

Over the past 50 years, science and technology have played a critical role in Singapore’s transformation into a thriving innovation hub. The PSTA honours scientific talent which has contributed to Singapore’s success. The PSTA comprises the following:
  • President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM)
  • President’s Science Award (PSA)
  • President’s Technology Award (PTA)

Four promising young researchers were also recognised with the Young Scientist Awards (YSA), which are organised by the Singapore National Academy of Science (SNAS) and supported by A*STAR.

Propelling Singapore to water self-sustainability

The President’s Science and Technology Medal 2015 was presented to Mr Tan Gee Paw, currently the Chairman of PUB, The National Water Agency, for his pivotal role in harnessing science and technology to enable Singapore to achieve a sustainable water supply, and in building Singapore’s water and environmental R&D ecosystem.

Mr Tan has been involved in advancing Singapore’s water management system throughout his career. He formulated a plan of action in 1972 to create estuarine reservoirs and urbanised catchments, and also envisioned closing the water loop by capturing and reusing every drop of water to bring about sustainability in Singapore’s water supply. In his capacity as Permanent Secretary (Environment) from 1995 to 2001, and as the Chairman of PUB since 2001, he has been instrumental in pursuing R&D to bring this plan to fruition, and in developing a thriving water R&D ecosystem and robust water industry.

Through his innovative spirit and unwavering commitment to excellence, Singapore’s former strategic weakness in water resources has been transformed into a competitive advantage for Singapore.
Mr Tan has ensured the sustainability of Singapore’s water supply through the creation of two unconventional water sources for Singapore that leverage on technology: NEWater, and Desalination. His push for greater R&D and innovation in sustainable technology, to challenge the boundaries of traditional water management, has led PUB to develop and implement new technologies to great success.

Mr Tan has also played an integral role in cultivating Singapore’s water R&D ecosystem and industry cluster, and nurturing talent in this field, to meet technology, industry and manpower goals. He spearheaded the development of the WaterHub as an industry-wide strategic platform for R&D, learning and networking. Today, the WaterHub is the preferred R&D base of both local and international research institutes and companies keen to capitalise on the opportunities in Singapore’s water industry.

His various initiatives have brought great value to Singapore in establishing a talent pool, creating high-value jobs, attracting top water companies to invest in Singapore, and strengthening Singapore’s water R&D capabilities and sustainability. NEWater can now meet up to one third of the nation’s water demand, and is expected to meet 55% of Singapore’s water demand by the year 2060. Through his efforts, Singapore has emerged as a model for sustainable urban water management for cities around the world. Singapore is now a widely acclaimed global hydrohub, with NUS and NTU ranked as the top two universities in the world for water research.

Mr Tan said, “I am deeply honoured to be selected to receive this highly prestigious Medal. While the R&D work done in the water industry is often carried out away from the limelight, it is essential for Singapore’s long-term sustainability and competitiveness. I am certain this award will further spur efforts in water R&D to meet Singapore’s continued need for water resources.”

Decoding Asian cancers for potential cures

The President’s Science Award was presented to a team comprising Professor Patrick Tan from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) and A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), Professor Teh Bin Tean from the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), and Professor Steven Rozen from Duke-NUS, for their outstanding integrative and translational research in Asian cancer genomics.

Asian cancers represent a vast unmet clinical need, and it is estimated that by 2030, 70 per cent of the world’s cancer deaths will occur in Asia and developing countries1. However, relatively little is known about their underlying genetics. The team’s research has met this need using innovative genomic platforms, basic R&D coupled with translational and clinical studies. Their research has led to strategies for the improved diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Asian cancers, and has also directly illuminated similar pathways in Western cancers as well. With a wide spectrum of expertise for Asian cancers, the team has received international recognition for its work, and ensured Singapore’s position as a front-runner in this emerging field.
1World Health Organisation Cancer Fact Sheet, retrieved 19 Aug 2015 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/

Helping the environment through clean water and energy technology

The President’s Technology Award was conferred upon Professor Neal Chung from NUS, for his innovative research on membranes, which has set Singapore at the forefront of membrane research for clean water and energy applications. Professor Chung’s novel membrane designs have been commercialised by various companies, including an ultrafiltration membrane which he co-invented with Hyflux, which is now adopted in Singapore’s water plants and worldwide.
These membranes have extensive societal benefits, from protecting public health by removing viruses and contaminants, to making desalination more environmentally-friendly and effective. His disruptive research on membranes was specifically cited as a factor in NUS’ recent ranking as a top leader in water research. Professor Chung’s passion for research application has also influenced a number of his former students to set up companies for water reuse and chemical separation.

Mr Peter Ho, Senior Advisor of the Centre for Strategic Futures, Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office, and Chairman of the PSTA Main Selection Committee, commented, “As we celebrate Singapore’s Jubilee Year, it is fitting that the PSTA recognises the significance of research that has turned vulnerability into strength for Singapore’s continued growth, and which has the potential to improve lives beyond our shores. This year’s winners epitomise the Singapore Story. Their achievements demonstrate the importance of research and innovation for our nation’s future prosperity.”

Recognising the next generation of scientific leaders

The Young Scientist Awards were given to four promising young research scientists and engineers. They are: Dr Goki Eda from NUS, Dr Nripan Mathews from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Dr Yvonne Tay from NUS, and Dr Wan Yue from A*STAR’s GIS. The Young Scientist Awards were presented by Mr S. Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, to the winners.

For media queries and clarifications, please contact:
Tang Xin Ning
Senior Officer, Corporate Communications
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Tel: +65 6826 6452
Email: tang_xin_ning@a-star.edu.sg
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About the President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA)

The President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA) are the highest honours bestowed on exceptional research scientists and engineers in Singapore for their excellent achievements in science and technology, and outstanding contributions to the development of the research and development landscape in Singapore.

The PSTA were formerly known as the National Science and Technology Awards (NSTA), which was started in 1987. The elevation of the award to Presidential status in 2009 underpins Singapore’s efforts to raise the level of excellence in R&D and strengthen the growing community of scientific talent in Singapore. The PSTA consists of the following awards:
  • President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM)
  • President’s Science Award (PSA)
  • President’s Technology Award (PTA)

President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM)

The President’s Science and Technology Medal is awarded to outstanding individuals who have made distinguished, sustained and exceptional contributions and played a strategic role in the development of Singapore through the promotion and management of R&D. Recipients receive a specially designed gold medal and a citation.

President’s Science Award (PSA)


The President’s Science Award is presented to research scientists and engineers in Singapore who have made outstanding contributions in basic research leading to the discovery of new knowledge or the pioneering development of scientific or engineering techniques and methods. Recipients will receive a crystal trophy, a citation and a prize of $50,000.

President’s Technology Award (PTA
)

The President’s Technology Award gives recognition to research scientists and engineers in Singapore who have made outstanding contributions to research and development resulting in the invention or discovery of significant technology with industrial applications. Recipients will receive a crystal trophy, a citation and a prize of $50,000.

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific discovery and develop innovative technology. Through open innovation, we collaborate with our partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit society. As a Science and Technology Organisation, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability. We play a key role in nurturing and developing a diversity of talent and leaders in our Agency and Research Institutes, the wider research community and industry. A*STAR oversees 18 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis.

For more information on A*STAR, please visit www.a-star.edu.sg.