New president for Sunway

SUNWAY University has appointed Prof Sibrandes Poppema (pic) as its president.

It is hoped that Prof Poppema’s appointment will drive its vision to be a world-class university, and to advance its mission to nurture all-round students and become the epicentre of the discovery, advancement, transmission and application of knowledge that meets the needs of society and the global community, the varsity said in a press release on Tuesday.

Prof Poppema, a Dutch-Canadian citizen, had served as University of Groningen president from 2008 to 2018. Among his greatest achievements was the merger of its Faculty of Medical Sciences and Academic Hospital, resulting in the University Medical Centre Groningen.

Prof Poppema studied medicine at the University of Groningen, where he also performed his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis on the immunopathology of Hodgkin’s disease and trained as a pathologist.

Following that, he worked on his post-doctoral at the University of Kiel in Germany, and at Harvard University in the United States.

Over the years, he had published over 240 articles on topics relevant to immunology, haematology and oncology, which were cited more than 18,000 times.

In recognition of his vast scientific achievements, he was awarded the Knighthood in the Order of the Netherlands Lion by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 2007.He was recently awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. This was to recognise his efforts in promoting international cooperation on research and education between Germany and the Netherlands.

Prof Poppema was first introduced to Sunway University through Prof Peh Suat Cheng, whom he had supervised on her PhD studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands years ago.

He was invited to deliver a public lecture on “Building a leading university: from regional roots to global significance” in the Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Speakers Series in Sunway University in 2017.

Prof Poppema joined Sunway University in early 2019, as a Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Professor, and as an advisor to the Chancellor, especially on the establishment of the university’s new medical school.

In addition to driving the establishment of Sunway University Medical School, he is involved in promoting scientific and educational collaborations with the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“The new structure of the School of Medical and Life Sciences is an important vehicle for the development of Sunway University Medical School.

“The curriculum will be developed by us together with the University of Cambridge, and will be science-focused, aiming to train physician scientists and specialists who can enhance the medical research profile in Malaysia, ” Prof Poppema said.

“Another important development for the university is the start of engineering programmes, with electrical engineering as the first to be offered this year.

“We already have a number of research centres in the field of engineering with top scientists, and Malaysia as a country is very strong in the field of engineering, ” he shared.

Sunway University’s ongoing collaborations in medical research include developing a Centre for Global Health Delivery with Harvard Medical School that will focus on social medicine and global health delivery.

Sunway has also established the ASEAN Microbiomics Centre with partners in Singapore.

With researchers in the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Institute in Cambridge and Sunway Medical Centre, researchers at Sunway University are currently performing analysis of the viral sequences of Covid-19 patients in Malaysia and on the development of peptide-based vaccines for Covid-19.

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