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Singapore scientists elected into National Academy of Sciences

Renowned Singapore-based cancer geneticists Neal Copeland, Ph.D., and Nancy Jenkins, Ph.D., who are among the top 50 most-cited biomedical scientists in the world today, have been elected into the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

Dr. Copeland, Executive Director of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) of Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), was elected to NAS this year. NAS elected Dr. Jenkins, Deputy Director of IMCB's Genetics and Genomics Division, in 2008. Their membership takes effect this year.

Drs. Copeland and Jenkins, who have co-authored over 750 papers and been cited over 30,000 times, have worked together for 30 years since they met as postdoctoral follows in Harvard Medical School.

Prior to joining IMCB in 2006, Drs. Copeland and Jenkins were scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). He headed NCI's molecular genetics of oncogenesis section and was director of the mouse cancer genetics program, while she headed the molecular genetics of development section.

Since joining A*STAR, they have set up and now jointly run IMCB's cancer genetics laboratory and have been working on new ways of analyzing the cancer genome, by characterizing the genetic changes required to promote or sustain tumor formation.

In their research to induce different types of human cancer in mice, their IMCB group has recently discovered ways of manipulating the genetic structure of "Sleeping Beauty," a mutagenic transposon, a sequence of DNA that can move around to different positions within the genome of a single cell. In moving around, a transposon can cause mutations and change the amount of DNA in the genome.

In addition, Drs. Copeland and Jenkins' group plans to use another whimsically named transposon, "PiggyBac," to model cancer in mice and potentially zebrafish. With these cancer models, as well as recent advancements in cloning and sequencing technologies, they hope to better understand and devise more effective treatment strategies for various forms of cancer.

A*STAR Chairman Lim Chuan Poh said, "Neal and Nancy are two of the most outstanding cancer geneticists in the world, and their election to the National Academy of Sciences is a fitting recognition of their excellent and impactful work. I would like to congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition. A*STAR is happy that both Neal and Nancy are committed to inspire and mentor our own crop of young scientists seeking to make their own mark in the world of science and to make a difference to society."

Dr. Copeland said, "This is a true honor for us both. Nancy and I function very much as a team, and we owe our success in the laboratory to each other. We are extremely happy to have been elected, and excited to be helping IMCB build up its capabilities and train its future generation of scientists to be at the forefront of science research."

Dr. Jenkins said, "Through the years Neal and I have had a rich and very fulfilling journey in science and in life, and we are especially glad to be sharing one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer in the USA. We look forward to making more exciting and impactful discoveries together."


Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

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