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Thursday, 19 July 2012, 17:00 HKT/SGT

Source: A*STAR
Scientific Director of A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network Conferred Top Italian Honour

SINGAPORE, July 19, 2012 - (ACN Newswire) - Professor Paola Castagnoli, Scientific Director of A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) has been conferred the honour of the "Order of the Star of Italy" (Ufficiale dell'Ordine della Stella d'Italia). This is one of the highest civil honours awarded by the President of the Italian Republic to Italians overseas and foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and promotion of Italy's national prestige abroad. For her outstanding contributions towards promoting scientific exchange and research collaborations between Singapore and Italy, Professor Castagnoli is the first Italian scientist in Singapore to be conferred this premier award. She received the award from the Ambassador of Italy to Singapore, Dr. Anacleto Felicani, today.

Scientific Director of A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network Conferred Top Italian Honour

An expert in immunology, Professor Castagnoli has published over 180 scientific publications, and has been one of the most highly cited immunologists worldwide(1). Since assuming her role as Scientific Director and Senior Principal Investigator of SIgN in 2007, Professor Castagnoli has led her research group in discoveries that provided novel insights into the mechanisms of immune diseases(2). She has also actively engaged and created platforms to forge research collaborations between scientists from Singapore and Italy, in both the public and private sectors.

In 2009, she facilitated the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) inked between A*STAR and top Italian research institutes, namely FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology Foundation (IFOM), European Institute of Oncology (IEO) and European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM). This agreement paved the way for several scientific collaborations, the most notable of which led to the set up of a joint Singapore-Italy laboratory between A*STAR and IFOM to advance basic scientific findings into new strategies of cancer treatment and prevention(3).

Professor Castagnoli also spearheaded the signing of a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) between A*STAR and Regione Lombardia in the same year. This agreement expanded scientific collaborations between scientists from A*STAR and Lombardia, in areas such as Biotechnology, New Materials, Energy-Environment and Health. To foster more in-depth research collaborations between the two countries, Professor Castagnoli organised the Singapore-Italy Joint Symposium on Biomedical Sciences in 2009. The event attracted more than 200 scientists from both countries and the region, and saw top scientists presenting groundbreaking findings in cancer, immunology and stem cell therapies(4).

A passionate scientist with a personal interest in grooming scientific talent, Professor Castagnoli was instrumental in establishing the research and training attachment agreement between A*STAR and the University of Milano-Bicocca. This strategic tie-up resulted in the exchange of manpower and PhD students(5).

Professor Castagnoli's scientific contributions extended beyond collaborations with the public research institutions. Under her leadership as Scientific Director at SIgN, A*STAR inked an agreement with Italian biotechnology company, Siena Biotech S.p.A. in 2010, to develop new drugs and targeted antibodies to treat cancer and bone diseases such as osteoporosis(6).

Said Chairman of A*STAR, Mr Lim Chuan Poh, "I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Paola. Her dedication in pushing the frontiers of immunology research at A*STAR, and her contributions towards strengthening the scientific collaborations between Singapore and Italy are commendable. This award reaffirms the excellent bilateral scientific relations that have been established between Singapore and Italy."

Said Professor Philippe Kourilsky, Chairman of SIgN, "I am very glad that Paola's outstanding contributions towards advancing immunology, and her dedication to promoting scientific exchanges between Singapore and Italy has won her this prestigious award from the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. I believe she will continue to build on her international scientific networks to open up more avenues for both public and private institutions in Singapore and Italy to engage in research partnerships that will benefit society."

(1) According to Thomson Reuters (Institute for Scientific Information) Web of Knowledge, a widely-recognised premier academic citation indexing and search service in the area of sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities.

(2) "Novel Discovery In Dendritic Cell Signalling Pathways Pave The Way For New Therapeutic Targets" - June 15, 2009, http://www.a-star.edu.sg/?TabId=828&articleType=ArchiveView&month=6&year=2009

(3) "Alliance without boundaries for cancer research" - March 2, 2011, http://www.a-star.edu.sg/?TabId=828&articleType=ArchiveView&month=3&year=2011

(4) "A*STAR's 1st Singapore - Italy Joint Symposium on Biomedical Sciences Attracts Over 200 Scientists From Italy and Singapore" - December 10, 2009, http://www.a-star.edu.sg/?TabId=828&articleType=ArchiveView&month=12&year=2009

(5) "A*STAR, Italy In Strategic Tie-Ups To Promote Science Research" - March 24, 2009, http://www.a-star.edu.sg/?TabId=828&articleType=ArchiveView&month=3&year=2009

(6) "Exploring the Davids and Goliaths of Therapeutic Molecules" - April 8, 2010, http://www.a-star.edu.sg/?TabId=828&articleType=ArchiveView&month=4&year=2010

About the Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN)

The Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), officially inaugurated on 15 January 2008, is a research consortium under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)'s Biomedical Research Council. The mandate of SIgN is to advance human immunology research and participate in international efforts to combat major health problems. Since its launch, SIgN has grown rapidly and currently includes 200 scientists from 25 different countries around the world working under 26 renowned principal investigators. At SIgN, researchers investigate immunity during infection and various inflammatory conditions including cancer and are supported by cutting edge technological research platforms and core services.

Through this, SIgN aims to build a strong platform in basic human immunology research for better translation of research findings into clinical applications. SIgN also sets out to establish productive links with local and international institutions, and encourage the exchange of ideas and expertise between academic, industrial and clinical partners and thus contribute to a vibrant research environment in Singapore. For more information about SIgN, please visit www.sign.a-star.edu.sg.

Dr. Sarah Chang
Corporate Communications
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Tel: +65 6826 6442
Email: chang_kai_chen@a-star.edu.sg

Topic: Research and development
Source: A*STAR

Sectors: Science & Research, BioTech
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