Monday September 1, 2008

Prof Khalid honoured with first Merdeka Award

JOHOR BARU: For more than 30 years, Prof Datuk Dr Khalid Abdul Kadir has been researching the human body’s response to stress and diabetes.

The efforts by the 60-year-old head of the Johor Baru Monash University Clinical School and endocrinologist paid off when he was honoured with the first Merdeka Award for Health, Science and Technology.

“The award will inspire me to work harder in my research,” he said in an interview.

The award is jointly initiated by Petronas, ExxonMobil and Shell. The Star is the official media for the Merdeka Awards.

The first part of his research work, which started in 1973 at Monash University Australia, focused on how the body responds to stress and ways to modify the responses as its effects might lead to diseases.

Prof Khalid explained that the second part of his research involved studies on the number of people with diabetes and the reason they suffered the disease.

Scrolls of honour: Prof Khalid holding up one of his many certificates testifying to his achievements in Johor Baru recently.

“We discovered in the early 1980s that 4.6% of the country’s adult population suffered from the disease and the number increased to 8% between 1996 and 1997.

“At present, the number continues to grow – between 10% and 12% are effected despite the Government’s efforts in healthy lifestyle programmes,” he said.

He noted that the orang asli community, even those near urban areas, were not affected by diabetes, unlike the Malays, Chinese and Indians.

“We are very interested to know why they are 'protected' from the disease whereas Aborigines in Australia are more prone to it compared to Caucasians,” he said.

Born in Nong Chik, Johor, Prof Khalid admitted that it was difficult balancing his research with being an endocrinologist, his duties as a professor and his family.

“Young researchers must understand that medical clinical research can be quite an arduous journey.

“Collaborating with intelligent, enthusiastic, and bright group of people is important as research is a team effort,” he said.

Prof Khalid’s main inspiration for becoming a doctor was former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, who treated him when he had chickenpox as a child.

He said Prof John Funder of Monash University also inspired him to become a researcher in stress hormones during his PhD studies.

He is no stranger to stature as his parents were none other than former law minister Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Yusof and the nation’s first woman minister Tun Fatimah Hashim.

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