Most young Singaporean students who will be traveling next week and during July will be vacationing, relaxing and sightseeing.
But not 18-year old Nicholas Tan Xue-Wei, who will soon depart for the U.S. to attend - and present a research paper - at The 2007 World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Applied Computing (WORLDCOMP'07), June 25 to 28, in Las Vegas.
Before returning home to Singapore, Nicholas will continue to represent the Bioinformatics Institute, one of the 14 research institutes of Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), by presenting his research paper at the World Congress on Engineering 2007 (WCE 2007), July 2 to 4 in London.
At WCE 2007, Nicholas will be giving a presentation that was nominated for Best Paper Awards competition.
At specified times during each conference program, Nicholas will speak about his research paper, titled, "Towards A Serum-Free Medium: Growth Receptors And Signaling Pathways That Regulate Multipotency In Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells."
He will describe the results of a preliminary screening of human growth factors and molecular pathways that would allow a type of stem cell commonly isolated from bone marrow to be grown in the laboratory under conditions that are safe for clinical trials. When grown under safer conditions, these cells (Mesenchymal Stem Cells) will have many therapeutic implications.
When conference attendees attend his presentation - and read the data that it presents - it will be Nicholas, not the Bioinformatics Institute (BII) scientists, who will be answering the questions.
"Being nominated for the Best Paper Award at the World Congress on Engineering 2007, in competition with established researchers and Ph.D. students, is a rare and commendable achievement for an 18-year-old and a good testimonial of the work Nicholas carried out at BII," said his mentor, Dr. Vivek Tanavde, a research scientist at BII.
Nicholas came to BII last October during a one-month research attachment, a result of his selection as one of the 100 recipients of the 2006 A*STAR Junior College Science Award.
Despite a hectic training schedule with Singapore's National Swimming Squad and rigorous coursework at the Raffles Junior College, he excelled at using computer software to analyze data from the laboratory of biologists to come up with predictions of biological events. The predictions made in this research study will be useful for the development of serum-free culture media, which is a safer and a better alternative to current methods.
Commenting on Nicholas' success, BII research scientist Dr. Tanavde said "Nicholas was an enthusiastic student who worked with me for a month. Unlike most other students, after finishing his project, Nicholas diligently collated his findings to communicate the results to two international conferences. I wish Nicholas all the best in his scientific endeavour."