The Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Andrew Goledzinowski (third from left) with the Australian Endeavour Leadership Programme Awards 2019 recipients Dr Fong Choong Yi (first from left), Dr Ong Hui Lin (second from left) and Dr Giri Shan Rajahram (fourth from left). Pix by NSTP/Salhani Ibrahim

Three Malaysian researchers recently received the prestigious Australian Endeavour Leadership Programme Awards 2019 that gave them the opportunity to undertake post-doctoral research with leading universities and research institutes in Australia.

The awards were conferred to Dr Fong Choong Yi, 42, a consultant paediatric neurologist and Associate Professor from Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Medicine Faculty and Dr Giri Shan Rajahram, 38, an infectious disease physician from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Sabah and the Ministry of Health Malaysia.

Meanwhile Dr Ong Hui Lin, 40, a senior lecturer and associate professor from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) School of Materials Engineering received the Endeavour Australian Cheung Kong Research Leadership Award.

Dr Fong will pursue a three-month professional clinical attachment in paediatric epilepsy at The Children’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Service of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney in October.

Hoping to further develop his sub-specialty in pediatric epilepsy, Dr Fong said: “I will be studying the stereo-EEG technique to localise the epilepsy in the brain and find where the epilepsy starts.

“This novel and highly specialised technique is not yet available in Malaysia and South East Asia. I hope to offer this cutting-edge treatment to children with complex epilepsy in Malaysia with the goal to improve their quality of life and achieve seizure freedom.”

Thanking his colleagues in UM for motivating him to apply for the award, Dr Fong added: “I also hope to develop new joint research projects with an Australian-Malaysian approach to develop cost-effective epilepsy evaluation methods by using deep phenotyping.”

For Dr Giri, the award has provided him with an intellectually rewarding experience at the Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies), Charles Darwin University and Darwin Hospital from April to July this year.

Dr Giri said: “In Australia, I was able to enhance my clinical acumen and leadership qualities in infectious disease through apprenticeship with world renowned experts.

“The research relationship we have fostered with Menzies has provided solutions to locally important clinical issues particularly in Malaria. It has also helped guide relevant policies in Malaysia and the World Health Organisation.”

Dr Giri shared that it was not his first attempt for the Endeavour Leadership Programme award.

“In 2017, I started my first application which I had never finished. It is such a humbling experience to be able to receive this prestigious award this year.”

Ong left for Australia on July 27 to conduct a five-month postdoctoral research in materials engineering at the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) of Deakin University, Victoria.

“I hope my collaboration with Professor Dr Tong Lin at IFM will develop my research ideas and vision in materials and technology development of new cost-effective and green nanocomposite membrane separators for energy storage devices such as batteries and supercapacitors.

“The research will converge my 13-year experience in nanocomposites and Tong’s expertise in electrospinning,” said Ong who hoped the research will pave way for publications, patents and product commercialisation.

Ong added: “I am very grateful to UniMAP’s vice-chancellor Professor Dr R. Badlishah Ahmad, and the former vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Zul Azhar Zahid Jamal who have always supported us to achieve our dreams.

“Their encouragement has developed the capabilities of the faculty members to build a better university and a better nation,” said the senior lecturer.

The awards are internationally competitive awards, which promote knowledge, education links and enduring ties between Australia and the world.

All the three recipients were honoured at the awards ceremony and alumni celebration hosted by the Australian High Commission’s Department of Education recently in Kuala Lumpur.