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Professor Jackie Y. Ying Wins The Mustafa Prize Top Scientific Achievement Award

(Photo credit to The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology)

Singapore, December 24, 2015 - Professor Jackie Y. Ying, Executive Director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR has won the inaugural Mustafa Prize "Top Scientific Achievement" Award for "her great scientific and technological contributions and achievements to the synthesis of well-designed advanced nanostructured materials and systems, nanostructured biomaterials and miniaturized biosystems for various interesting applications. "

The Mustafa Prize is granted to research that has improved human life and made tangible and cutting-edge innovations on the boundaries of science or has presented new scientific methodology. Besides the "Top Scientific Achievement" category, the Mustafa Prize also recognizes achievements in the "Life Science and Medical Sciences", "Nano Science and Nanotechnologies", and "Information and Communication Science and Technologies" categories. The 2015 Mustafa Prize winners are Prof. Ying for the "Top Scientific Achievement" Award and Prof. Omar Yaghi of University of California, Berkeley for the "Nano Science and Nanotechnologies" Award. Each laureate will receive USD 500,000 in prize money and a medal at an award ceremony in Tehran on December 25.

"I am deeply honored by this award. Research is something that I have been really passionate about. It combines the search for an unknown solution to grand challenges that can impact our lives, with the drive to innovate, translate and commercialize. Perhaps the most fulfilling part of the work is the nurturing of young scientists to share my vision and mission to make a difference through our work."

Prof. Ying's research has led to many new materials and systems with unique functionalities and size-dependent properties that tackle major challenges in medicine, chemistry and energy. These inventions have been applied towards drug delivery, cell and tissue engineering, biosensing and diagnostics, catalysis and pharmaceuticals synthesis, battery and fuel cell systems. Prof. Ying has 340 publications in leading journals, and over 150 primary patents issued or pending, many of which have been successfully licensed for commercialization by multinational companies and start-ups.

"Amongst the many novel outcomes of her work, Prof. Ying's contribution to the development of stimuli-responsive polymeric nanoparticles that deliver insulin to diabetic patients only when their blood glucose levels are high, without the need for external blood glucose monitoring, is considered an outstanding scientific approach of great promise for improving the quality of life of mankind in the near future," said Professor Hossein Zohour, Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Mustafa Prize.

The glucose-sensitive nanoparticles developed by Prof. Ying's laboratory can auto-regulate the release of insulin depending on the blood glucose levels. This drug delivery system bypasses the need for blood glucose monitoring by finger pricks, and allows insulin to be delivered orally or by nasal passage, instead of through injection. This technology would greatly benefit the diabetic patients by helping to prevent hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic conditions and the associated organ damages. Prof. Ying co-founded SmartCells, Inc. to commercialize this novel nanomedicine. This spin-off company was acquired by Merck in 2010, with potential aggregate payments in excess of USD 500 million to further develop the technology for clinical trials.

The Mustafa Prize was established in 2013 to recognize leading researchers and scientists of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states, as well as Muslim researchers from around the world. Presented biennially by the Iranian government, The Mustafa Prize aims to encourage education and research by playing a pioneering role in developing regional relations between science and technology institutions working in the OIC member countries. It also seeks to improve scientific relations between academics and researchers in order to facilitate the growth of science in the OIC member states, the second largest inter-governmental organization in the world after the United Nations.

Source: The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN)
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