Malaysian Virologist Wins 2020 ASEAN Science Prize For Women
Dr. Chan’s research focus on viruses and developing vaccines for infectious diseases.
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A Malaysian virologist from University Malaya (UM) was declared winner of the 2020 ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women – an award that honors Southeast Asian’s female scientific minds for their academic and professional achievements.
Dr. Chan Yoke Fun is an Associate Professor and the Head of the Department of Medical Microbiology at UM’s Faculty of Medicine.
She is said to have been credited in over 80 academic journals and international publications throughout more than 20 years of her career.
Among her other accolades includes the 2019 Asian Women Entrepreneurs Leadership Award for the field of science and environment as well as being a recipient of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Malaysia Fellowship awards in 2014.
Her research centers around infectious diseases, specifically, the Enterovirus A71 or EV-A71 for short – a commonly preventable virus that causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) as well as severe neurological disease or brain damage.
The virus was first identified in the late 1960s’ and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease is considered a major public health problem in the Asia-Pacific region, being particularly harmful to children.
Dr. Chan’s studies focus on developing vaccines for the virus as well as educating people about the disease.
She explained that her work in science had led to a better understanding of how viruses spread and infect people.
Dr. Chan was 1 of 10 ASEAN women who were listed as finalists for 2020’s Science Prize, including Dr. Shefaly Shorey from Singapore for her research on women and family health.
Seemingly humbled by her accomplishments, Dr. Chan hopes to empower women to champion their passion, perseverance, and positive thinking in achieving greater heights.
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