PM graces conference on ageing

Tun Dr Mahathir (left) being greeted by Lim and his wife Puan Seri Cecilia Lim upon his arrival at the Eminent Speakers Conference Series. Third from right is Prof Adeeba.

FOUR eminent speakers shared their insights on the latest approaches in medical science with respect to healthy ageing, through early detection and novel treatments.

They were speaking at the Inaugural Eminent Speakers Conference Series held at the Auditorium, Research Management & Innovation Complex in Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, that also saw some of the world’s foremost, award-winning researchers and experts coming together for the event, themed “Navigating Towards Healthy Ageing”.

The event was co-organised by Genting Bhd and Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine in conjunction with Genting Founder’s Day.

Genting Bhd chairman and chief executive Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay said: “Over the past decade, Genting Bhd has been involved in research and development for new treatments and new ways for early disease detection through our investments in life sciences and biotechnology companies.

“We hope that our investments in these companies will benefit Malaysia, through knowledge transfer via collaborations between these world-class companies and researchers with our local universities and local researchers, bringing cutting edge technology to Malaysia to combat ageing and diseases, and creating employment in Malaysia.

“We have already seen the benefit of our investments, as three of the four eminent speakers for today’s conference are founders of life sciences companies which Genting Bhd had invested in over the past decade.”

Prof Dr Anders M. Dale of Neurosciences, Radiology, Psychiatry and Data Science at the University of California, San Diego, touched on one of the major challenges in medicine, being the early detection or prediction of disease, to enable proactive intervention.

The second speaker was the only Malaysian speaker at the conference, Universiti Malaya’s Professor of Medical Physics Prof Dr Ng Kwan Hoong.

Prof Ng is one of the top 50 medical physicists in the world and the first Malaysian scientist to receive the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award for outstanding contributions to the field of nuclear and plasma sciences and engineering.

In his talk entitled “The Age of Precision Scanning – Decoding the Ageing Process”, he spoke on Radiogenomics, a new field that analyses a large number of scan images to characterise the microscopic appearance and genetic changes of a disease.

This approach gives us the ability to examine our cells and tissues with a high level of precision, as such, helping in understanding the ageing process and medical conditions linked to ageing, including dementia.

Prof Claude M. Wischik, Holder of the Chair in Mental Health, University of Aberdeen, and executive chairman of TauRx Pharmaceuticals Ltd, is a pioneer in Tau research that is recognised as the main constituent of the Alzheimer tangle, and he developed the first Tau aggregation inhibitors.

In his talk on cognitive function later in life, he explained that the main driver of cognitive decline is the brain pathology originally discovered by Alzheimer, so-called tangles forming inside nerve cells of the brain composed of sub-units of a protein called Tau.

Lastly, fourth speaker Dr Robert J. Hariri spoke on how recent advances in cell biology and genetic engineering are setting a new direction in medicine, shifting the traditional health care paradigm toward the possibility of regenerative and curative treatments.

He is a surgeon, biomedical scientist and a highly successful serial entrepreneur, having pioneered the use of human stem cells to treat a range of life-threatening diseases.

The talks were followed by a panel discussion, whereby the public had an opportunity to pose questions to the panellists comprising Prof Adeeba and the four speakers, facilitated by Prof Tan Maw Pin from the Medicine Faculty of Universiti Malaya.

As part of the conference, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad who epitomises healthy ageing, held a dialogue with the speakers and representatives from Genting Bhd and Universiti Malaya to discuss medical advances and exchange ideas on healthy ageing.

Also in attendance during the conference were Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Haji Hashim; Universiti Malaya Faculty of Medicine dean Professor Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman; members of the life science and medical fraternity, as well as students and the public.

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