Congratulations to Ryia Illani for winning the Best Poster Award!

Congratulations to Ryia Illani Mohd Yunos, our science officer and also a PhD candidate who won the first prize of the “Best Poster Award” during the Coloproctology 2018. The prestigious event was organised by Malaysian Society of Colorectal Surgeons and was held in Holiday Inn Hotel, Melaka on 8th to 11th March 2018.

Ryia presented the results of her team work titled “Development of a Semiconductor Sequencing-based Panel for Screening Individuals with Lynch Syndrome”. The developed panel includes six genes associated with a hereditary predisposition to Lynch syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by an increased risk of developing colorectal, ovarian, uterine, and other cancers. Mutation testing of these genes may help in identifying individuals who has high risk of getting aforementioned cancers and enable early detection. On top of that, identification of a disease-causing variant by the panel would also guide testing and diagnosis of at-risk relatives.

The works presented displayed the collaborative efforts among our scientists, clinicians and also bioinformaticians from the industries. The idea conceptualisation was generated from the discussion between Prof Datuk Dr. Rahman Jamal, UMBI’s founding director, with UKM Medical Centre colorectal surgeons, Assoc Prof Dato’ Ismail Sagap and Dr. Luqman Mazlan. Subsequently, Dr. Nurul Syakima, UMBI research fellow, joined forces with Miss Janice Khor from Thermo Fisher Scientific to design and develop the panel. Several versions of the panel were designed until finally, the 4th version which has the highest coverage and lowest amplicon drop out was produced. The panel was tested on the Ion PGM sequencer but the process did not stop there; numerous bioinformatics tools have to be utilised to validate the panel in silico, and to identify the best analysis pipeline. Jia Shiun from Codon Genomics was a crucial team member along this process. Finally, to test the panel’s sensitivity and specificity, validation was performed on the Agena MassArray system.

The work was judged by renowned expert Prof. William Chen, Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery Center, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan. This illustrates the international recognition to Ryia, and also to the effort put forth by Cancer Genomics and Biobank team. As a shortlisted candidate for the best poster presentation, she also received a travel grant to attend the conference provided by the organising committee in addition to the RM1000 cash prize. Congratulations, Ryia!



Figure 1 Delegates from UMBI. From Left, Prof. Datuk Dr. A. Rahman A. Jamal, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Neoh Hui Min, Dr. Chin Siok Fong, Ryia Illani Mohd Yunos




Figure 2 Ryia explaining her work to Prof. William Chen during the judging session