Click on the photos for speakers' biography.
Since 2010, Prof. Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid has been the Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board. He has been appointed by the United Nations (UN) as the Co-Chairman of STI Advisory Board of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Prof. Zakri’s professional interests include crop science, biodiversity and science diplomacy. In January 2017, the US-based “Biofuel Digest”, an influential industry magazine hailed him as one of the “Top 100 Influential Persons in the Advanced Bioeconomy 2017”. Three species have been named after Prof. Zakri: a beetle (Paleosepharia zakrii), a cicada (Pomponia zakrii) and a pitcher plant (Nepenthes zakriana).
Specialty Areas: Crop Science, Biodiversity and Science Diplomacy
Lecture Title: Science, Technology and Innovation as Drivers of Malaysia’s Growth and Competitiveness
Since independence, Malaysia’s economic history has been a story of structural change. We have successful transitioned from an agriculture-based economy in the 1960s to a manufacturing based economy in the 1980s, and onto a service-based economy at present. Today, we stand on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. Transformations around the world are fueled in a large part by technology and advancement in science. From biotechnology in Asia to artificial intelligence (AI) in Silicon Valley, to blockchain and global supply chains, technologies are creating ripple effects that impact societies, institutions and the economies. The convergence of these technologies are likely to entirely transform the ways in which we live, work and interact with one another. Taking stock of these new technologies as well as their disruption potential is critical for all nations and especially Malaysia in order to ensure sustainable economic growth and competitiveness.
Prof. Poo Mu-ming is the Paul Licht Distinguished Professor Emeritus at University of California, Berkeley, Director of Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Director of CAS Center for Excellence for Brain Science & Intelligence Technology. He received his BS in Physics from Tsinghua University, Taiwan, PhD in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University, and was on the faculty of University of California at Irvine, Yale University, Columbia University, University of California at San Diego and at Berkeley. He received the Ameritec Prize (2001), China International Science & Technology Cooperation Award (2005), Qiushi Distinguished Scientist Award (2011), Gueber Neuroscience Prize (2016), and Honorary Doctorates from Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He is a member of Academia Sinica, US National Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Hong Kong Academy of Science. His research interest is to understand the mechanism of neural plasticity.
Specialty Areas: Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the plasticity of synapses and neural circuits, and the role of neuroplasticity in brain functions.
Lecture Title: Brain Plasticity: From Synapse to Cognition
The cognitive functions of the brain, such as learning and memory, depend on the ability of neural circuits to change their properties of signal processing in response to prior use. Many of these use-dependent changes (“plasticity”) occur at synapses where signals are transmitted between neurons. Depending on the pattern of neuronal activities, repetitive synaptic transmission could cause long-term changes of the efficiency for future transmission. I will discuss how learning and memory are carried out by the neural circuits, how neural circuits are formed after birth, and how we acquire our cognitive ability.
Prof. Sir Richard J. Roberts is the Chief Scientific Officer at New England Biolabs, Beverly, Massachusetts. He received a PhD in Organic Chemistry in 1968 from Sheffield University and then moved as a postdoctoral fellow to Harvard. From 1972 to 1992, he worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, eventually becoming Assistant Director for Research under Dr. J.D. Watson.
He began work on the newly discovered Type II restriction enzymes in 1972 and these enzymes have been a major research theme. Studies of transcription in Adenovirus-2 led to the discovery of split genes and mRNA splicing in 1977, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1993. During the sequencing of the Adenovirus-2 genome, computational tools became essential and his laboratory pioneered the application of computers in this area. DNA methyltransferases, as components of restriction-modification systems are also of active interest and the first crystal structures for the HhaI methyltransferase led to the discovery of base flipping. Bioinformatic studies of microbial genomes to find new restriction systems are a major research focus as is the elucidation of DNA methyltransferase recognition sequences using SMRT sequencing.
Field: Genetics, Molecular Biology
Lecture Title: Why You Should Love GMOs
When Monsanto first tried to introduce GMO seeds into Europe, there was a backlash by the Green parties and their political allies, who feared that American agro-business was about to take over their food supply. Thus began a massive campaign not against the true target, Monsanto, but rather against the surrogate target, GMOs. This has had disastrous consequences for one of the most promising technologies ever developed for improving food supplies. I will argue that by deliberately ignoring the science that underpins GMOs and painting horrific pictures of the dangers that might ensue, political motives are slowing the wide adoption of these technologies at the expense of the developing world. I have organised a campaign of Nobel Laureates to try and influence the debate. I will use Golden Rice as a clear example of the costs of these shortsighted policies. Millions of children have died or suffered developmental impairment because of a lack of Vitamin A in their diet. Golden Rice could reverse this, but has become a target of the Green parties because it is a GMO. This is foolish and dangerous. How many more children must die before this is considered a crime against humanity?
Prof. David Jonathan Gross is the Chancellor’s Chair professor of Theoretical Physics and former director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California Santa Barbara, USA. Prof. Gross was previously the Thomas Jones professor of mathematical physics at Princeton University.
His discovery, with his student Frank Wilczek, of asymptotic freedom led to the formulation of Quantum Chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear force. This completed the Standard Model, which details the three basic forces of particle physics – the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the strong force.
Prof. Gross was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. He has also made seminal contributions to the theory of superstrings that brings gravity into the quantum framework. With collaborators, he originated the “Heterotic String Theory”, the prime candidate for a unified theory of all the forces of nature. He continues to do research in this field at KITP, a global center for physics.
Specialty Area: String theory
Lecture Title: The Frontiers of Fundamental Physics
At the frontiers of physics we search for the principles that might unify all the forces of nature and we strive to understand the origin and history of the universe. In this lecture I shall describe some of the questions that we ask and some of the proposed answers. I shall also discuss what it might mean to have a final theory of fundamental physics and whether we are capable of discovering it.
Mr. Goh Peng Ooi is the founder and Group Executive Chairman of Silverlake, a software
organisation founded in 1989 that delivers high-end quality and state-of-the-art solutions to
various global industries. He is also Malaysia’s first tech billionaire.
An Engineering graduate majoring in Electronics Engineering from the University of Tokyo,
Japan, on the Monbusho scholarship, Mr Goh has over 30 years of experience in Information
Technology. Under his leadership, today, Silverlake is a multi-billion dollar organisation
represented in the Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe and USA employing over 5,000 people.
Mr. Goh is still very much involved in academics – particularly in Science and Mathematics. Among his academic-related interests include researches on Science of Intelligence and its application on Human Action and Economy; building the Silverlake group based on the Silverlake Collaborative Intelligence and Innovation Model; and delivering talks in institutions of higher learning.
Lecture Title: A Study on Mathematical Systems and Its Relationships to Science, Economy, Management and Wealth
As a young student, I equated true physics with mathematics by deducing that our time/space was mathematical. My conviction did not serve me well throughout my academic life and I graduated believing that these “wild mathematical imaginations” would never cross my mind again. In 1988 I was serving my eighth year as an IBM-er, I casually proposed using Group Theory for the Core Banking design. While that was not particularly well-received at the meeting, it rebooted my need to search for deeper mathematical meaning in my life again. I allowed mathematical axioms and symbols to expand beyond what is generally accepted, my ideas on Group Theory led to Category Theory and to the Theory of Generic Figures, and somehow in between my collection of thoughts and ideas, Silverlake was born. My life’s journey so far has been a ride through a world where Mathematics interweaves Commerce where Mathematics and Science, being the “art of being most accurate” is opposed to Economy and Business as the “art of being the least wrong”, and the application of my “new theories” in my own business. The purpose of my talk is to describe the best that how I can apply my theories to day-to-day life in hopes that my years of experience will inspire those who share similar dreams with me; or at the very least provide some assurance that the path and journey that I have chosen can be surprisingly purposeful, if not academically, then financially.
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Lee Oi Hian is the Chief Executive Officer of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) since 2001. He graduated from the University of Malaya in Agricultural Science in 1974, followed by an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1977.
The KLK Group is a plantations-based group with a planted area of 220,000 hectares (mainly of oil palm) located in Malaysia, Indonesia and Liberia. KLK has also integrated into oleochemicals downstream manufacturing and property development.
Tan Sri Lee had served in various positions in the plantations industry, namely in the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, the Malaysian Estate Owners’ Association, the Malaysian Oil Palm Growers Council, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board and the Malaysian Cocoa Board.
Tan Sri Lee is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of St Michael’s Institution, Ipoh. He is also Honorary President of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry in Malaysia.
Specialty Areas: Plantations, Oleochemicals and Property Development
Lecture Title: Palm Oil: “God’s Gift to the World”
Palm Oil, which is “God’s gift to the World”, has been a huge blessing to the development of Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries. The oil palm trees lead in terms of productivity and contributing more than 1/3 of world oils and fats. From this tree, both the palmitic oils and lauric oils are being produced in a hugely sustainable manner. Health-wise, the presence of a 40% monounsaturated oil and the presence of palmitic, a neutral saturated fats enable the palm oil to be used as “transfree” ingredients in many applications.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, USA, Prof. Jerry McKee Adams did his undergraduate studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, followed by his PhD studies at Harvard University with James D Watson (1962-1966) that revealed the role of methionine in the initiation of polypeptide chains.
His post-doctoral studies with Frederick Sanger from 1967 to 1968 at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge involved pioneering work on mRNA sequences. There he met Prof. Suzanne Cory, who became his career-long collaborator.
After further molecular biology studies in Geneva, Switzerland, they took positions in the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where their early studies helped to clarify the genetic basis of antibody diversity.
Since 1982, Prof. Adams and colleagues have focused on the genetic basis of cancer. Their work established how chromosome translocations drive lymphoma development. Following their seminal discovery in 1988 that cell death (apoptosis) is impaired in cancer cells, they have concentrated on the role of apoptosis in cancer, the mechanisms that control cell death and potential ways of exploiting the apoptotic machinery to improve therapy.
His research has led to over 200 scientific publications (collectively cited more than 40,000 times) and also his election to the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Science and the Academy of the America Association for Cancer Research.
Specialty Area: Genetics of haemopoietic differentiation and malignancy
Lecture Title: How Understanding of the Control of Cell Death has Led to A Promising New Cancer Therapy
In 1988, our lab discovered that a protein called BCL-2 contributed to the development of lymphoma. Unexpectedly, it did so by stopping the cells from dying when they should. Subsequent research by many labs around the world, including ours, revealed that a family of proteins related to BCL-2 control this basic biological process. These findings prompted drug companies to develop synthetic compounds that could target BCL-2 as potential anti-cancer agents. Indeed, this approach has worked. In 2016, the first compound targeting BCL-2 was approved for treating an aggressive form of leukaemia and is under study for many other cancers.
Prof. Suzanne Cory is one of Australia’s most distinguished molecular biologists. After graduating in biochemistry from The University of Melbourne, she undertook her PhD in Cambridge and postdoctoral studies in Geneva. She returned to Melbourne to a research position at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, where she is currently Honorary Distinguished Professorial Fellow in the Division of Molecular Genetics of Cancer. Prof. Cory was Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Professor of Medical Biology of The University of Melbourne from 1996 to 2009 and President of the Australian Academy of Science from 2010 to 2014.
Prof. Cory’s research has had a major impact in the fields of immunology and cancer. Her scientific achievements have attracted numerous honours and awards. She is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society and a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences and the Japan Academy. In 1999, she was appointed Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia and in 2009, she was awarded the French decoration of Chevalier de I’Ordre de Ia Légion d’Honneur.
Specialty Area: Immunology and Cancer
Lecture Title: Regulating Cell Life and Death in Health and Disease
Apoptosis, the physiologic process of cell death, is vital for shaping the mammalian embryo and for ensuring tissue homeostasis in the adult. During apoptosis, cells shrink, fragment their DNA, bleb and break up into ‘apoptotic bodies’ to be engulfed by neighbouring phagocytes. Apoptosis culminates in activation of cysteine proteases called caspases, which cleave vital cellular proteins, thereby ensuring celular demolition.
This lecture will focus on Bcl-2 and its relatives, describing how these proteins were discovered, how they regulate apoptosis by controlling the integrity of the outer mitochondrial membrane and how their deregulation can contribute to cancer and autoimmunity.
Prof. Emeritus Yong Hoi Sen’s research interests include genomics, genetics, systematics, biodiversity, microbiomes and natural products covering organisms of agricultural and public health importance. Some of his research findings have direct applications in clinical and agricultural practices. He was among the pioneers worldwide to adopt a holistic and innovative approach to solving problems in biosystematics, employing both classical and modern methods. He has published over 300 scientific papers, authored several books, as well as edited the Animals volume of Encyclopedia Malaysia, several journals, academic books and proceedings.
Prof. Yong had received several prestigious awards such as the Malaysia Toray Science Foundation First Science and Technology Award (1994), National Science Award (1995), MPKSN Prize for Advancement/Promotion of Public Understanding in Science and Technology (1996), Professor Emeritus in Genetics and Zoology, University of Malaya (2007), and the Merdeka Award (2010) for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement.
Lecture Title: Exceptions to the Rule: Gems of Biodiversity
A rule is “a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles”, or “a usually valid generalisation”. In language, there are exceptions to the rules of grammar. Likewise, there are exceptions to biological principles/rules. This talk will focus on exceptions to the definitive characteristics of plants and animals. It will be illustrated with examples involving morphology, habit, reproduction and genetic constitution. The take-home message is “Exception provides a great source of new discovery”.
Tan Sri Dr. Lim Wee Chai is the founder and Executive Chairman of Top Glove Corporation Bhd, which was established in 1991 and has today emerged as the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer. He currently also serves as National President of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM). Additionally, he has been appointed University of Malaya Director (2015 to 2018) and EPF Board Member/Director (2015 to 2017). On 30th March 2017, the Prime Minister of Malaysia also appointed him as a member of the National Science Council.
Tan Sri Dr. Lim graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Physics in 1982 from the University of Malaya and received his Master of Business Administration in 1985 from Sul Ross State University, Texas, United States of America. He obtained his PhD in Management from Universiti Selangor, Malaysia in 2015 and was conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by Oklahoma City University, USA in 2016.
Specialty Areas: Manufacturing and marketing of natural rubber & nitrile gloves
Lecture Title: Manufacturing Excellence for the World
The presentation focuses on the evolution of Top Glove Corporation Bhd since its establishment in 1991, which is from an operation comprising one factory and three production lines into the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer commanding 25% of the global market share. This presentation will also cover Top Glove’s key success factors, which include good management practices, business ethics and the company’s emphasis on good health, R&D and costsaving initiatives. Future aspirations, such as to capture 30% of the world market share by 2020 will also be revealed.
Ir. Academician Datuk Hong Lee Pee graduated from the University of Malaya, Malaysia with a Bachelor Degree (Hons) in Civil Engineering in 1973. He first worked for the Public Work Department followed by a piling company under the conglomerate Sime Darby Ltd.
Datuk Hong then set up his own piling and construction company, Pilecon Engineering in 1980 which was listed in early 1983 and its businesses expanded to China, Hong Kong, Australia and a number of ASEAN countries. By the 90s, Pilecon Engineering had grown into a multi-million conglomerate and controlled four other listed companies including one in Australia..
From the late 70s to 90s, Datuk Hong developed a number of innovative solutions for solving construction problems including new methods of construction and patented engineering products such as Tripile, IFP Penetrometer, Stepped Bored Pile and Airport Over the Sea.
Datuk Hong retired from the corporate life in 1998 and has since been actively involving in various social works including being the Treasurer of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (2000-2009), Chairman of the National Social Security Organization (2001-2009), President of the ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (2009-2016), Council Member of the Academy of Science Malaysia (2011-2013), Council Member of Institution of Engineers Malaysia (2013-2014), Joint Chairman of the Steering Committee for Kuala Lumpur Engineering Sciences Fair (Since 2013) and others.
Lecture Title: Innovation Makes You Fly Higher
The talk will touch on the various compelling reasons for learning sciences and the importance of developing science competencies and innovative mind-sets at young age. This talk will then share with you some of the speaker’s creative ideas during his young age and innovations throughout his career. The talk will also highlight the speaker’s innovative capability and capacity that led to his many successes in the business, academic and social fields.