Singapore-based researchers dominate MIT's Innovators Under 35 list for Asia Pacific

SINGAPORE – Ms Carine Lim shook the medical science field when she and her research team developed a tool to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease through a simple and cost-effective blood test.

Considered the first of its kind in the world, the test can be used to detect the illness even before clinical symptoms appear, which is helpful given how Alzheimer’s disease is often diagnosed only at a late stage. At $30 per blood test, the cost is also less than 1 per cent of the price of a positron emission tomography (PET) scan – the current “gold standard” for detecting the disease.

For her groundbreaking research, the 31-year-old Singaporean scientist was named one of 20 people in the MIT Technology Review’s 2020 Innovators Under 35 list for Asia Pacific.

The list, which is a regional version of the renowned and long-running global Innovators Under 35 list, honours young innovators under the age of 35 for their work in shaping the future of technology in various fields such as biotechnology, transportation and energy.

The Asia Pacific list covers South-east Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Innovators from China and the Middle East are featured in separate regional lists.

The 2020 Asia Pacific list, unveiled at an event on Tuesday (Dec 3) night, was dominated by Singapore-based awardees, who made up 10 out of the 20 honourees. This is the highest proportion of Singapore-based honourees since the list was out in 2014.

Other Sinagpore-based awardees include Ms Ling Ka Yi, chief science officer and co-founder of Shiok Meats, which harnesses stem cells for lab-grown crustacean meat such as shrimp, and Ms Sadaf Monajemi, who developed software that can more accurately predict and prevent a stroke.

The list also honours Mr Connor Talbot in New Zealand, who developed affordable and more comfortable prosthetic solutions for amputees using 3D-printing technology, and Ms Wong Wei Ru of Malaysia, who developed a novel technique using light to detect dengue virus and its antibodies in clinical blood samples.

Mr Steve Leonard, founding CEO of SGInnovate, an organisation that sponsored Tuesday’s event, said: “The 20 ‘Innovators Under 35’ are a group of exceptional young scientists pursuing research that, in many cases, relates to substantial challenges facing humanity.”

All 20 honourees will be recognised for their work at EmTech Asia in Singapore next February, a leading regional conference on emerging technologies. EmTech Asia is co-organised by the MIT Technology Review, one of the world’s oldest and most respected technology publications.

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