“It is important that every brain is given a chance to innovate as research is about innovation. If individual scientists are given the space to innovate, there will be the opportunity for sparks to come out,” explains Ms Lee Ying in relation to her gift to the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to support research into lung cancer.
Ms Lee’s gift will support a project led by Dr Azhar Ali into non-small cell lung cancer, which has one of the highest cancer-related mortality rates.
Ms Lee and Dr Azhar met, by chance, at a lunch organised by a friend. Their conversation sparked Ms Lee’s interest in lung cancer research.
“My friends and I realised that quite a few people we know – who are women – have succumbed to lung cancer. The treatment they underwent was drastic and very few of them survived. Hopefully patients can be given a better quality of life and prospects of recovery,” says Ms Lee.
There is growing resistance to the current treatments for lung cancer, particularly in Asian populations and among women, where 40 to 60 per cent of patients are affected. Dr Azhar’s research focuses on the identification of new treatments, as well as early detection and understanding why people succumb to the disease. He is exploring new therapies using existing, approved drugs.
“Dr Azhar has a fire burning inside him. He wanted to do something slightly different. He has a different approach. If he is given the chance to succeed, millions of patients could benefit.
“His research will bypass testing on animals, which can take very long and requires many approvals. By using existing medicines, with greater wisdom, we hope to save time,” explains Ms Lee.
Dr Azhar is also keen to address the rising costs and inaccessibility to cancer treatment for many patients. “This is why I embarked on research in the first place. My passion is to be able to contribute something. I would like my research to be translated into something everyone can afford,” he shares.
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