Lim Yoon Pin, Ph.D (IMCB, 1994-1999)
I joined Dr. Graeme Guy’s laboratory as a graduate student working on the signal transduction of receptor tyrosine kinases and phosphorylation-dependent protein-protein interactions. After my first post-doctoral stint at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, I returned to Singapore and was appointed as a research fellow at the National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS). DNA microarray and proteomics-based expression profiling were popular translational cancer research tools during those times. I knew I had to do something different to stay ahead of competition. I decided to develop phosphoproteomics methodologies for discovery of novel tyrosine kinase substrates in oncogenic signaling and cancer development. For this, I clinched the Best Academic Initiative award. Following recruitment by Oncology Research Institute (ORI), National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2004, I continue to expand the Onco-Phosphoproteomics program as a senior scientist cum principal investigator. Currently, I head a team of 6 post-doctoral fellows, 6 research assistants and 2 graduate students. Our goals are to contribute to i) understanding of cancer biology, ii) early detection of cancer and iii) expanding the pipeline of drug targets.
My role as a group leader offers me many opportunities and encounters that enable me to grow tremendously. They mould and refine my philosophy in three aspects. The first was my mindset towards research excellence. Since 2004, our group has discovered many novel tyrosine kinase substrates and cancer-associated proteins. Further studies on their molecular functions and signaling pathways continue to yield new insights in cancer biology. In 2008, our efforts in this field were recognized internationally when I was the only Asian invited to speak at the Fifth International Symposium of the Austrian Proteomics Platform. As I delivered my seminar alongside Nobel Laureate and other speakers from institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it impressed upon me that I was not just representing myself and the institution that I worked for but also my country. Henceforth, upholding Singapore’s reputation at international scientific arenas is a constant pursuit in my quest for research excellence.
The second aspect was a mindset of community service. I feel honored to be appointed as a member of the scientific review panel (SRP) by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), Ministry of Health (MOH), whose missions include promoting excellence in clinical and translational research. It provides a platform where I can offer my expertise to the scientific/clinical community in ensuring that public funds are channeled into well deserving projects. This makes my work so much more complete, meaningful and worthwhile. I certainly look forward to render my service to other national agendas.
As a young boy, I was fascinated by “germs” that could wreck havoc to our body but are invisible to the naked eye. I’d badly wanted to know what they look like. I also spent much of my childhood watching insects and tried ways to “erase” the systematic trails established by ants, hoping to “confuse” them. These intelligent creatures were flustered for a while but no they did not succumb to my mischief. I was born with a passion for nature and a curious mind. As a mentor-coach to graduate, honors, junior college and secondary school students, nothing gives me more satisfaction than to lead them in seeking new knowledge and discovering their passions. I was also exhilarated to see a research fellow from my group winning the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew post-doctoral fellowship. This leads me to the third aspect, a mindset of legacy. There is a lot of potential in people around us. It is my hope to help them maximize it. I want to share this philosophy to our youths - pursue your passion because it will empower you to do exceedingly well. Use your passion and go MAD (Make A Difference) with it!
As one looks back, one realizes that there was always somebody or an organization that had influenced you to be who you are or what you do today. I am proud of IMCB. Its culture of scientific excellence had inspired me. I remember Graeme, who is a superb mentor; Dr. Boon Chuan Low, who impresses me with his passion in education. I thank A*STAR for funding, which generates opportunities for me to create and exploit knowledge for the benefits of our society.
Link to Dr Lim Yoon Pin’s laboratory website: http://www.ori.nus.edu.sg/ib-LimYP2.html