UM sole Malaysian collaborator in cancer challenge shortlist

A TEAM from Universiti Malaya (UM) has been shortlisted for a global challenge that will see them joining hands with international experts in understanding the potential risks and benefits of e-cigarettes.

Led by Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin (pic), the UM Centre of Addiction Sciences (UMCAS) is part of the Multinational Consortium on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (MCENDS) competing for a share of £80mil (RM465mil) in the Cancer Grand Challenges programme hosted by Cancer Research UK in the United Kingdom and the National Cancer Institute in the United States.

The sole Malaysian team in the challenge will be working closely with 10 other shortlisted teams from the US, New Zealand, South Africa, the Netherlands, Mexico and Lebanon.According to Dr Amer Siddiq, being shortlisted from nearly 170 applicants across 61 countries for the endeavour is a testament to the strength of the team’s collaborative networks and the calibre of scientists in Malaysia.

“It is a privilege to contribute expertise to the global team to improve human lives by reducing cancer risk, which is aligned with UM’s vision to be a global university impacting the world,” he said in a press release dated June 26.

He added that the consortium’s proposal focuses on answering fundamental questions about e-cigarettes, which include the short- and long-term health impacts of such use, and whether or not they can help smokers quit.

Dr Amer Siddiq is grateful for the investment in research that UM has made which, he said, enabled the collaboration.

“The foresight of our university leaders has helped our team get to where it is today. The many students, scientists and external collaborators who have joined as visiting academics from the US, New Zealand and the UK have all contributed to making this possible,” he said.

Having worked with the US-based lead researchers of the MCENDS for the past five years on a range of research projects focused on tobacco control, he expressed his anticipation in delivering a “winning proposal” as part of the consortium.

Founded just last year, Cancer Grand Challenges is a global funding platform that aims to support world-class, multidisciplinary teams of scientists in finding bold new solutions to some of cancer’s toughest challenges. The winning teams will each receive a £20mil (RM116mil) award.“The results will be announced next year. We have to submit the final proposal in October and present it in UK in late November or early December,” said Dr Amer Siddiq.

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