Alternative to antimalarial drugs mooted by researcher, will utilise local and traditional plants from Sarawak

Sam (left) and ACS President Dr Angela Wilson posing with Sam’s poster at the ACS MENA Research Conference in Doha.

BY MAGDALENE ROGERS

MIRI: Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) PhD candidate Ivan Sam Jian Hung recently showcased his research project at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Middle East, Africa & Europe (MENA) Research Conference: Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in Doha, Qatar.

He was among four student representatives representing Malaysia at the conference under the sponsorship the ACS.

According to Curtin’s spokesperson in a press release here today, Sam enrolled in Curtin Malaysia’s Higher Degree by Research (HDR) programme following his graduation from the undergraduate chemical engineering programme.

He is currently conducting postgraduate research relating to ethnobotanical plants and malaria parasites.

At the conference, Sam presented a poster highlighting the synergistic medicinal benefits of turmeric and black pepper, which is a part of his postgraduate research work entitled ‘Enhancement of Antimalarial Property of Alpinia galanga Extract through Nanoemulsion Formulation with Essential Oils of P. nigrum, C. odontophyllum, N. sativa, C. domestica and P. betle’.

The research project, which aims to provide an alternative to current antimalarial drugs utilising local and traditional plants from Sarawak, is being supervised by Associate Professor Stephanie Chan Yen San, Associate Professor Jobrun Nandong and Dr. Jibrail Kansedo of Curtin Malaysia, and Dr. Angela Siner of University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).

According to Sam, the research incorporates traditional plant remedies with current technologies to increase the effectiveness in inhibiting malaria, which is friendlier compared to western medication.

The ACS MENA Research Conference: Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is a regional research conference of the ACS devoted to chemistry and chemical engineering and provides a platform for young researchers and scientists in different parts of the world to learn, explore and connect.

The three-day event featured high-profile and influential speakers, including plenary speakers Sir Fraser Stoddart, a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2016 and a chemistry professor at Northwestern University in the United States, and Dr. Ben L. Feringa, also a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2016 from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

More than 30 keynote, invited and accredited speakers from North America, Europe and Asia addressed the conference delegates on the latest advances and challenges impacting the MENA region’s chemistry and chemical engineering industries.

ACS President Dr. Angela Wilson was also an invited speaker.

The conference was hosted by the ACS Qatar Chapter and chaired by Dr. Hassan S. Bazzi, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Advancement at Qatar Foundation partner Texas A&M University at Qatar, and ACS Qatar Chapter chairman.

The conference also attracted a powerful portfolio of sponsors and partners, including Qatar Foundation, Qatar Fertiliser Company Ltd. (QAFCO), Qatar Airways, ConocoPhillips Qatar, TotalEnergies, and Qatar University.

The conference programme consisted of eight dedicated sessions devoted to a range of issues, including Advanced Functional Materials and Nanomaterials; Computational and Theoretical Results; Preparing Students for a STEM Career; Process Safety Engineering; Advanced Chemical Process and Product Design for a Better World; Chemical Engineering Sciences and Fundamentals; Catalysis and Polymers; and a final poster session on general chemistry and chemical engineering topics.

Sam thanked the ACS Qatar Chapter and ACS Malaysia Chapter for the opportunity to participate in the conference and present his research work. He also thanked the Sarawak Research Development Council (SRDC) for funding his research project, and Curtin Malaysia, the Curtin Malaysia Graduate School and the Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant at the Curtin Malaysia campus for providing the necessary resources and facilities to carry out the research.

In congratulating Sam on his achievement at Doha and his ongoing research, Dean of Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science Professor Tuong-Thuy Vu said Sam was one of the many bright minds in the HDR programme conducting research that will have longlasting impacts on industry and local communities.

Prof. Thy also commended Assoc. Prof. Chan for her efforts as head of the faculty’s Department of Chemical and Energy Engineering, a supervisor of HDR students, and an active researcher herself, saying that she fully embraced and supported the diverse and multidisciplinary research projects ongoing in the HDR programme.

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