Malaysian Scientist In Cambridge Awarded With Prestigious Medal For Cancer Research

Source: University of Cambridge

Malaysian-born scientist, Dr. Serena Nik-Zainal has been awarded the highly-acclaimed Francis Crick Medal and Lecture 2022 by The Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of sciences that promotes, recognises, and rewards outstanding developments in the scientific domain.

Dr. Serena, now based in Cambridge, received her well-deserved recognition after the committee elected to highlight the scientist’s “enormous contributions to understanding the aetiology of cancers by her analyses of mutation signatures in cancer genomes”, which they report as already being used in cancer therapy.

Although the society did not specify which project earned her the award, many think that her win can be attributed to her work on the MMRDetect algorithm classifier that works to detect genetic weaknesses in tumours.

Back in April 2021, the MMRDetect clinical algorithm received widespread attention for its ability to identify tumours with deficiencies that could possibly be used to tweak cancer therapies down to the requirements of the patients.

What’s more impressive was the fact that MMRDetect can also be immediately used once a patient has received a cancer diagnosis, and have their tumour analysed via genome sequencing – highlighting the practicality of the algorithm.

Dr. Serena calls this “a high honour” and is immensely grateful for the award while thanking her team for supporting her on the way to her win.

The Francis Crick Medal and Lecture is typically awarded every year for excellence achieved within the field of biological sciences, with preference given to genetics, molecular biology, and neurobiology.

As is tradition, Nik-Zainal will be awarded a bronze medal and a prize money sum of US$2750 (GBP2,000) during her associated prize lecture, which will be given in 2022.

The doctor’s new win only adds to her repertoire of achievements.

In 2000, Nik-Zainal received a sponsorship by Petronas to complete her studies at University of Cambridge, and then earned a CRUK Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship in 2017.

In 2019, she won the Dr. Josef Steiner Cancer Research Prize – which is regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize for cancer research’ – for her breakthrough research in accelerating the holistic interpretation of the cancer genome.

We wish nothing but the best for her and hope that her work continues to inspire more students to be interested in biological sciences. Congratulations, Dr. Serena!