L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science 2022 Supports Three Promising Malaysian Women Researchers
KUALA LUMPUR, 30th November 2022 – L’Oréal Malaysia celebrates three outstanding Malaysian women researchers in the 17th edition of the local L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme. Assistant Professor Dr. Alison Wee Kim Shan, Assistant Professor Dr. Nadiah Abu, and Associate Professor Dr. Mariatulqabtiah Abdul Razak were the three deserving recipients this year.
Dr. Alison was personally inspired by Jane Goodall to become a conservationist following an exchange of letters when she’d read Ms. Goodall’s biography working at a bookstore in Penang. Inspired and encouraged by her role model, she pursued environmental science and chose to focus on Malaysian mangroves.
Her project focuses on using environmental DNA, or eDNA, metabarcoding of fish to detect overfishing and pollution in mangroves. Environmental DNA is DNA left behind by animals in water or soil, and akin to forensic science, this DNA can be used to monitor several species and to gauge whether a certain area is being overfished. This technique is revolutionizing modern biodiversity surveillance as there is no need to catch or spot the animals as traditionally done. Dr. Alison will use the award money to compile a catalogue of the diverse species of animals present in the mangroves, much like a supermarket inventory to monitor water pollution and overharvesting.
Dr. Nadiah, who is currently working in one of the leading institutes in Molecular Medicine in Malaysia, submitted her proposal on cancer research. She hopes to use bodily fluids to detect cancer biomarkers, particularly for colorectal cancer.
Her project focuses on detecting a particular protein, extracellular vesicle derived heat shock protein 70 (EV-HSP70), where the method is both high in sensitivity and specificity. The particular method that she is working on can also be used to detect other biomarkers for other diseases as well. Current methods to detect this biomarker are tedious, requires high-end instrumentation and are not specific. This innovative researcher aspires to change that with this project directly impacting future detection for cancer patients.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mariatulqabtiah Abdul Razak’s research addresses one of the most popular topics these days: monkeypox. As an associate professor of the faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, she is working on a rapid diagnostic method of the monkeypox virus. Current cases are only detectable via the laborious and expensive PCR method, and Dr. Mariatulqabtiah hopes to solve this issue by using the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) method to do so. Prevention is better than cure and this lady of science is working on protecting the country should an outbreak arise in Malaysia.
The coveted L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for Women in Science contains a seeding fund of RM30,000 each to help women scientist advance their research – which is in line with the L’Oréal Fondation’s three-pronged mission of promoting the progress of inclusive beauty, scientific research, and climate change sustainability.
Tomas Hruska, Managing Director of L’Oréal Malaysia, said “As a science-based company, L’Oréal believes that there are endless possibilities for girls and women in STEM, and we want to nurture their dreams by supporting them as best as we can. Through the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme, we award and honour these exceptional women researchers, and we hope that this will then inspire more hopes to blossom and more dreams to be pursued.”
A global initiative by the Fondation L’Oréal, the programme was launched in Malaysia back in 2016. Over RM1.5 million of research grant has been disbursed to 57 women scientists in recognition of their achievements. For more information, please visit https://www.forwomeninscience.com/.