Plenary Speakers

War on Terror Cells: Novel sources of antimicrobials

Prof. Naveed Ahmed Khan


Department of Biological Sciences, Sunway University, Malaysia

Prior to joining Sunway, he has held positions at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, USA; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA; University of London, UK; University of Nottingham, UK; and Aga Khan University, Pakistan. With research grants of over $2 million, he has produced over 196 peer-reviewed publications, 7 books and 7 chapters, and guided over 39 graduate students. In recognition of his research efforts, he has received awards from the UK, USA, Pakistan and Malaysia. His work on the search for new antibiotics from animals living in polluted environments has been shown in documentaries on leading news channels. 

Development of High-Biomass Plants by Induction of DNA Polyploidization

Prof. Masaaki Umeda

Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan

Masaaki Umeda received his Ph.D from the University of Tokyo in 1993. In 1991, he was an Assistant Professor of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (IMCB) at the University of Tokyo. From 1999 to 2006, he was an Associate Professor of IMCB. Since 2006, he is a Professor of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology. He is interested in stem cells and cell cycle regulation in plants, and also in developing technologies to increase plant productivity. 

Arabidopsis: An Excellent Model Organism for Uncovering the Mechanisms RNAi and Epigenetics

Prof. Bernard Carroll

School Of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences

The University of Queensland, Australia

Bernie Carroll was awarded his PhD in Plant Genetics from the Australian National University (ANU) in 1986. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow and a Research Fellow at ANU (1986-89), and then a Higher Scientific Officer in The Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK (1990-93). He was appointed to a Teaching and Research (T&R) academic position at the University of Queensland (UQ) in 1993, and was promoted to a full Professor in 2013. In additional to teaching molecular genetics at UQ for the past 25 years, he has made significant research contributions in the field of RNAi and epigenetics in plants and plant development, including the role of intercellular and graft-transmissible signalling in these processes.


Bioactive Natural Products with Cancer Chemopreventive and Therapeutic Potential

Prof. Surh Young-Joon

Tumor Microenvironment Global Core Research Center

College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Korea

Professor Young-Joon Surh currently serves as Director of Tumor Microenvironment Global Core Research Center, Seoul National University. Prof. Surh graduated from College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University with BS and MS. He earned a PhD degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and had postdoctoral training at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1992 to 1995, Prof. Surh was appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Yale University School of Medicine. His research interest includes the molecular mechanisms of cancer prevention with anti-inflammatory and antioxidative phytochemicals, with emphasis on intracellular signaling molecules as prime targets. He is currently the Associate Editor of Molecular Carcinogenesis, Toxicology & Applied Pharmacology, Free Radical Research, Frontiers in Nutrition, and Frontiers in Oncology, and Editorial Board member of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, International Journal of Cancer, Cancer Letters, Cancer Prevention Research, Life Sciences, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Genes and Nutrition, Journal of Functional Foods, Food & Functions, Current Cancer Therapy Review, Journal of Toxicological Sciences and more recently Precision Oncology published by Nature Publishing Group. Prof. Surh is current President of Asia Pacific Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics Organization (APNNO) and President Elect of Korean Society of Molecular and Cellular Biology (KSMCB).

What Do Plant Genomes Really Encode?

Prof. Gordon Simpson

University of Dundee & The James Hutton Institute, Scotland UK

Gordon Simpson is the Professor of Molecular Genetics at the School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Scotland. He is the Deputy Head of Plant Sciences, an Associate member of The Centre for Gene Regulation & Expression and holds a joint appointment at The James Hutton Institute.


Research in Gordon Simpson’s lab is focused on the regulation of gene expression at the RNA level, and uses approaches based in molecular genetics, proteomics and high throughput RNA-Sequencing.

Invited Speakers

Impact of Social Stress on reproductive System: role of gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone neurons

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tomoko Soga

Brain Research Institute, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia

Associate Professor Tomoko Soga is the Head of Drug Discovery Platform including iPS cell facility, at the Brain Research Institute Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia. She joined Monash University in 2006 from the National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Japan. She obtained her B.Sc and M.Sc. from Kyoto Institute of Technology. Upon obtaining her PhD from Nippon Medical School, she was a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University in New York, USA. Her research focus has been on the neuronal mechanisms of depression, in particular brain serotonergic pathways in social stress induced depression. She has published over 50 papers with high ISI citations which have appeared in internationally renowned journals such as Endocrinology, Neuropharmacology, PNAS. She has received several awards such as Narishige award for neuroscience and from the Japan foundation for aging and health. She also serves as an associate and guest editor of several journals such as Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Frontiers in Endocrinology, and Frontiers in Neuroscience. She is a council member of the Asia and Oceania Society for the Comparative Endocrinology.

Mushroom Phenolic Antioxidants with Anti-angiogenic Properties: Their Identification and Mechanism of Action

Prof. Peter CK Cheung

Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme, School of Life Sciences

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Professor Peter C.K. Cheung obtained his PhD from the University of New South Wales in Australia and is the current Associate Director of the Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Cheung’s primary research interest is on bioactive components in functional foods with a main focus on the structure and function of non-starch polysaccharides, especially mushroom polysaccharides. His most recent work is on the research and development of polysaccharides as novel prebiotics using omnics technology and animal models. He is the associate editor of Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fiber and editorial board members of the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms and Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. He is the author or co-author of over 120 SCI publications.

Structural Basis for Antibacterial Peptide Transport Across Bacterial Membranes


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Konstantinos Beis

Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences

Imperial College London, United Kingdom.

Aug 2014 – to date: Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London, UK. Membrane protein crystallography

Sep 2011- Aug 2014: Lecturer, Imperial College London, UK. Membrane protein crystallography

Sep 2006 – Sep 2011: RCUK Fellow, Imperial College London, UK

Jan 2005 – Sep 2006: Skaggs Research Fellowship, The Scripps Research Institute, California, USA.

On the Omics of Rainforests - Or How Bioinformaticians Can Save The World

Assoc. Prof. Dr Bent Petersen

DTU Bioinformatics, Department of Bio and Health Informatics

DTU Bioinformatics, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

Centre of Excellence for Omics-Driven Computational Biodiscovery, COMBio, AIMST University, Malaysia

Bent Petersen is an Associate Professor in bioinformatics and Head of Studies for Human Life Science at the Technical University of Denmark, DTU. He is also the Deputy Director for the Centre of Excellence for Omics-Driven Computational Biodiscovery (COMBio) at AIMST University, Malaysia. He has a thorough experience in machine learning and has further specialized within the field of genomics and metagenomics where he is working extensively with Next Generation Sequencing data. His research group actively collects samples from all over the world and develops new tools that address the unique challenges of microbial and antique systems biology often by using machine learning. The research group is part of the “AI - Artificial Intelligence in Life Science” section of DTU Bioinformatics with machine learning as a focus. Currently, he is working extensively on genome and metagenome projects from various branches of the tree of life where they are using supercomputers to analyse the data. In the recent years, drawn by the challenges of plant genome data analysis, Bent has further developed in the field of plant genomics and established the Amazon Rainforest Genome Ontology project (ARGO). A website with video of the project can be seen here: ARGO has the aim of sequencing all the plants in the Amazon Rainforest.

Biorefinery and Sustainable Development


Prof. Mohd. Ali Hassan


Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences

Universiti Putra Malaysia

Professor Mohd Ali Hassan obtained his degree in Chemical Engineering at The University of Leeds, United Kingdom and PhD in Environmental Biotechnology from University of Okayama, Japan. He has more than 30 years of teaching and research experience. In 2002 he was promoted to the post of Professor at University Putra Malaysia (UPM) in the field of Environmental Biotechnology. He has worked extensively on international biomass, bioenergy and zero-emission projects throughout his career, particularly with Japan and Korea, in collaboration with the palm oil industry in Malaysia. He has succeeded in obtaining R&D funding from local and international agencies and companies. He managed to set up the Serdang Biomass Town and Biorefinery in UPM campus, since 2012. He heads an international SATREPS project on biomass and zero emission project at the palm oil mill funded by JICA-JST (Japan) and Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia. He was Dean, Faculty of Biotechnology, UPM from 2007-2014. Now he heads the Industry and Community Relations Unit at The Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences UPM. He has published more than 180 journal papers, has several patents, book chapters, national and international awards. He has completed 10 research projects, with 2 commercialised products, and has supervised and graduated many postgraduate and undergraduate students. He was awarded the Top Research Scientist of Malaysia by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia in 2013, and Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia in 2016. He has also received the Research Exchange Award from the Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, the Malaysia Research Star Award 2017 and the Malaysian Microbiology Award 2017. Currently he is Vice President of Asia Federation of Biotechnology, President of Asia Federation of Biotechnology Malaysia Chapter and a Committee Member of Biomass Asia Association. His current h index (Scopus) is 31, with more than 3000 citations.

Occurrence and Functions of Peroxisomes in Trypanosomatids and Other Organisms 

Prof. Paul Michels


Centre for Translational and Chemical Biology (CTCB)

School of Biological Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, UK

I am a Dutch biologist/biochemist who, for over 35 years, has been studying pathogenic microorganisms -bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes, particularly parasitic protists of the trypanosomatid group (Trypanosoma, Leishmania)- which cause serious, often fatal neglected diseases in (sub)tropical areas of the world. The major topic of my research has been the metabolism of these organisms; unravelling the metabolic network, notably energy and carbon metabolism, its expression during different developmental stages and in different nutritional conditions, the organization of different metabolic pathways over different cell compartments (cytosol, peroxisomes, mitochondria) and the regulation and flux control of the processes. In multidisciplinary collaborations with partners worldwide, functional and structural properties of enzymes have been studied to develop potent inhibitors for essential enzymes of the pathogens that do not affect human enzymes. Such inhibitors have been optimised to kill the pathogens in infected animal models and thus are candidates for development of drugs against the human diseases. A side project in my research has been the unravelling of the biogenesis and turnover of glycosomes, the peroxisome-related organelles of trypanosomatids that uniquely sequester enzymes of core metabolic processes such as glycolysis. Interference with the integrity of these organelles also offers possibilities for anti-parasite drug discovery.

Spontaneous Occurrence of Chromosomal Rearrangement is Affected by Cellular Level of Oxidative DNA Damages in Escherichia coli, which Varies with Different Nutritional Conditions and Oxygen Concentrations

Prof. Hisaji Maki


Division of Biological Sciences,

Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

1983              Doctor of Science degree received, Kyushu University.

1983-1987      Post-Doctoral Research Fellow; at the Department of Biochemistry, Stanford

                     University School of Medicine.

1987-1992      Assistant Professor; at the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine,

                     Kyushu University. 

1992-1994      Associate Professor; at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, the

                     University of Tokyo. 

1994-present  Professor; at the Division of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and


2009-2011      Dean of Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and


Small Coding Genes Hidden in plant Genomes, encode Hormone-like peptides

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kousuke Hanada


Kyusyu Institute Technology, Japan

I have performed comparative plant genomics throughout my scientific career.  I conducted my graduate work with Dr. Takashi Gojobori (National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Japan) [from 2000, Apr to 2004, Oct], my post-doctoral work with Dr. Wen-Hsiung Li (University of Chicago, Chicago, USA) [from 2004, Oct to 2006, Apr] and Dr. Shin-Han Shiu (Michigan State University, East-Lansing, USA) [from 2006, May to 2007, May]. After these two postdoctoral positions, I was an independent researcher at RIKEN (Yokohama, Japan) [2007, June to 2012, Sep] and an Associate Professor at Kyusyu Institute of Technology (Fukuoka, Japan) [2012, Oct to present]. By applying my experience in gene annotation, I infer much of novel small coding genes (encoding <100 aa) and alternative splicing forms using various omics data. After inferring such the novel annotation, I’m completing experimental evidence to emphasize the physiological importance in the novel annotation. In future analysis, I will address the evolutionary impacts of novel annotation in plants.

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15-Keto Prostaglandin E2 as a Negative Regulator of STAT3 Signaling in Breast Cancer

Prof. Dr. Hye-Kyung Na


Department of Food Science and Biotechnology, College of Knowledge-Based Services Engineering, Sungshin Women’s University

Professor Hye-Kyung Na is a Chair of the Department of Food Science & Biotechnoloy, Sungshin Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea. She obtained PhD degree at the Department of Food & Nutrition, Chonnam National University, South Korea and had Postdoctoral training at the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University. Since relocation to Korea in 2000, Prof. Na joined Prof. Young-Joon Surh’s laboratory in Seoul National University, College of Pharmacy where she worked as Research Professor until 2008. Prof. Na received the International Scholar-in-Training Award given by American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) 5 times consecutively from 2003 to 2007. She currently serves as Associate Editor for the Molecular Carcinogenesis, Toxicological Research and Journal of Cancer Prevention and as Editorial Board member for Free Radical Research, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Journal of Functional Food and Molecules and Cells. Prof. Na served as Secretary General of the Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology (COEX, Seoul, Korea).  Prof. Na’s research focuses on molecular mechanisms underlying cancer chemoprevention with dietary and medicinal phytochemicals, inflammation-associated carcinogenesis, epigenetic regulation of 15-prostaglandin dehydrogenase, a tumor suppressor gene, in breast, colon, and stomach carcinogenesis and effects of selected chemopreventive agents on redox and anti-inflammatory signaling network. 

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Vancomycin Intermediate resistance in S. aureus: an update

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hui-Min Neoh


UKM Medical Molecular Biology Institute (UMBI),

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Hui-min Neoh graduated from Juntendo University, Tokyo in 2007 with a PhD in Medical Sciences (Bacteriology), and is currently a senior research fellow in the UKM Medical Molecular Biology Institute (UMBI), UKM. Her research team works on bacteria antibiotic resistance mechanism and virulence, arbovirus sero-epidemiology, sepsis, and also on the association of gut microbiome with colorectal cancer.

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Application of Life Cycle Assessment as a Tool for Improved Environmental Performance and Management

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sumiani Yusoff

Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences (IOES)

University of Malaya

Sumiani Yusoff, Associate Professor Dr, joined the Faculty of Engineering, UM, specialising in Environmental Engineering and Management. She obtained her PhD in Environmental Engineering and Management from University of Malaya, MSc in Public Health and Environmental Control Engineering from University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom and Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons) from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.


Holding many posts in UM, currently she is Dean of Sustainability Science Research Cluster in UM and the Director of UM high center of excellence, the Institute of Ocean and Earth Science (IOES), UM. Prior to that she was the Deputy Director and Chief Auditor of the Quality Management and Enhancement Centre (QMEC), UM and was also the Deputy Director of the International Public Policy and Management (INPUMA), University of Malaya (UM) and Program Coordinator for Environmental Engineering at the Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering. She currently also heads the UM Standing Committee on Ecocampus initiatives and implementation and is also the principal coordinator for the UM Zero Waste Campaign.  


A civil engineer by training, her research interests and area of specialisation include environmental management systems, life cycle management and assessment, environmental impact assessment, environmental planning and management using Geographical Information System (GIS), integrated solid waste management, eco-design and sustainable production, eco-labelling, and environmental reporting. She is involved in numerous international and national committees related to environmental engineering and her areas of interests. Amongst some of the posts she has held are as Chairman and Vice Chairman of MANCID-YPF (Malaysian National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage –Young Professional Forum), Group Head for Malaysia LCA National Project on Life Cycle Impact Assessment, National Expert Representative and Technical Member of Malaysian National Standards Committee on Environmental Management (SC 5) Life Cycle Assessment and Eco-labelling, National Technical Committee on Solid Waste Standards Formulation and Auditor for special projects in the National Prime Minister’s Sustainability Hibiscus Award, technical member of SIRIM-JETRO LCA implementation in Malaysia and member of International LUCED/U-NEXUS Environmental Management Perspective Research Network.


She has published and presented many publications, including technical journal papers, books, book chapters, course modules, Malaysian standards, technical papers and reports in international, regional and national publications. She also serves as a technical reviewer for various local and international journals.


She is listed in the Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Marquis Asia/Pacific Who’s Who, Asian Admirable Achievers (Vol. 111). She is also a certified ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and ISO 9001 Quality Management System Lead Auditor of University of Malaya and the Faculty of Engineering, member of the Occupational Safety and Health committee of University of Malaya and was the Quality Manager for ISO 9001 since its inception at the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Malaya.

The Mechanism of the Biological Clock that Controls Animal Development

Prof. Yasumasa Bessho

Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan

Professor Yasumasa Bessho leads Laboratory of Gene Regulation Research in NAIST, Japan, where he conducts research on developmental biology of animals. His group focuses research of morphogenesis and pattern formation in vertebrates, mainly from a view point of collective cell behavior. Professor Bessho was awarded PhD degree from Kyoto University on the research of regulation of glutamate receptor expression in developmental cerebellum in 1994. He developed the research on glutamate receptors in Kyoto University. He moved to Washington University School of Medicine in the United States, where he investigated the role of glutamate receptors in neuronal cell death and survival in mouse brain. He then moved to Institute for Virus Research in Kyoto University, and started research on transcription factors and their function in animal development. In 2004, Professor Bessho joined to NAIST, and has investigated animal development using mouse and zebrafish as model animals.