Meet our Illuminate Award winners

Awards and Achievements
The HRI's annual Illuminate event recognises the achievements of some of our best and brightest early career researchers in their work to fight cardiovascular disease. 

This year's awards, presented by The Hon Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, and Professor Shaun Jackson, Director of Cardiovascular Research, HRI, go to:

Meet our Award winners

Richard Tan, Applied Materials Group – Student Researcher Award 

Richard talks about what he hopes to achieve through his research

Richard Tan is a ‘just-submitted’ PhD student working in the Applied Materials Group at HRI. Richard is awarded “Best Student Researcher” for his work on bioactive coatings for implanted medical devices. The coatings he is developing make the medical device they are applied to more compatible when implanted in the body by turning off the body’s inflammatory responses. By preventing this inflammatory response, the durability of the implanted device is drastically improved, making these coatings ideal for developing longer-lasting medical devices. The added significance of this technology is that it can be applied to existing devices with minimal additional time and costs.

Originally from San Francisco, California, USA, Richard completed his undergraduate studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He then moved to Australia in 2009, where he completed a Masters Degree in Biomedical Engineering and worked at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research as a Research Assistant for five years. Richard commenced his doctoral studies at the HRI in 2015 and has recently submitted his thesis by publication, with four first author papers.

In the past 12 months, Richard was the Oral Presentation Young Investigator Winner at the TERMIS World Congress, Kyoto, Japan – the largest international materials conference in the world – as well as an Oral Presentation Young Investigator finalist at the Cardiovascular Initiative Drug Discovery Symposium, Sydney, Australia.

“Science is the tool that gives you the power to turn your imagination into innovative solutions that breathe life back into patients suffering from debilitating diseases.” – Richard Tan

Pradeep Cholan, Vascular Complications Group – Student Researcher Award, Highly Commended 

Pradeep Manuneedhi Cholan is a final year PhD student working in the Vascular Complications Group at HRI. Pradeep is awarded “Student Researcher Award, Highly Commended” for his work into endothelial dysfunction as a key event of atherosclerosis. His work investigates the protective role TRAIL plays in the vascular endothelium under homeostatic and pathological conditions as well as in the development of disease.

Pradeep completed his Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Hons) at Griffith University in 2014 and commenced his doctoral studies at the HRI in 2015. His work has been recently published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine under the title TRAIL protects against endothelial dysfunction in vivo and inhibits angiotensin-II-induced oxidative stress in vascular endothelial cells in vitro. This work was also chosen for an oral presentation at the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Meeting in San Francisco earlier this year. Pradeep has given multiple national presentations at the Australian Vascular Biology Society (AVBS) and Australian Atherosclerotic Society (AAS). Additionally, Pradeep published a review article on NADPH oxidases, angiogenesis and peripheral artery disease in Antioxidants July 2017.

“I have always been fascinated with science, especially human biology. Finding ways in which we can control our body to strive for a healthier lifestyle has been my motivation in pursuing research.” – Pradeep Cholan
Dr Lining (Arnold) Ju, Thrombosis Group – Unity4 Best Publication Award 

Dr Lining (Arnold) Ju is a National Heart Foundation of Australia Postdoctoral Fellow (2017–18) with the Paul Korner Innovation Award (top ranked applicant) at the University of Sydney. He works in the Thrombosis Group at HRI and is awarded “Best Publication” for his research paper describing a new treatment strategy to combat fatal thrombotic disease for patients with diabetes, which he published in Nature Communications as the equal first author. This publication describes an important advance in our understanding of why individuals with diabetes have a higher clotting incidence and why the normal anti-clotting drugs don’t work to treat this effectively. It also highlights a new treatment pathway that may be targeted to tackle clotting in diabetes.

Arnold obtained his PhD in nanoscale biomechanics and biomedical engineering with the SigmaXi best thesis honor at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University in the USA. He recently won the 2018 Bayer Young Investigator Research Grant from the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ), the first time that this clinician society has funded a bioengineer.

Arnold is bilingual and uses his experiences to help young international researchers overcome culture-shock and life transitions.

“It was my father’s heart attack in the first year of my PhD, where his blood vessels were occluded by clots, that taught me that the shear force of blood flow has a critical effect. I was convinced that my research should solve real-world problems.” – Arnold Ju
Dr Yen Chin Koay, Cardiometabolic Disease Group – Dimension Data Early-Career Researcher Award 

Dr Yen Chin Koay is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Cardiometabolic Disease Group at the Heart Research Institute. She is awarded the “Early Career Researcher Award” for her work developing new platforms for identifying new lipid markers of insulin resistance, as well as identifying a new biomarker decision-tree to guide type 2 diabetes treatment. In addition to her own research projects, Koay single-handedly manages the Cardiometabolic Disease lab and runs the Charles Perkins Centre Mass Spectrometer Core Facility for the Metabolic Disease Research Group. She has also contributed important data towards NHMRC grants, and supervises and trains both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the research group as well as the wider Mass Spectrometry research team.

Koay completed her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Chemistry, UNSW in 2016. In 2013, she was awarded the prestigious Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award. She first joined the Cardiometabolic Disease Group at the HRI under the Endeavour Australia Internship Programme, before continuing to her current postdoctoral role. Her research interests include the application of mass spectrometry-based metabolomic strategies for biomarker discovery in various diseases such as fatty liver, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

“The important thing in science is to never stop questioning – I chose to work in the field of metabolomics because it is at the interface between chemistry, biology, informatics and statistics, and I really enjoy expanding my skills to work in different research branches.” – Yen Chin Koay
Illuminate 2018 was sponsored by Dimension Data, Sydney Local Health District and Unity4.

Header image L-R: Award winners Dr Lining (Arnold) Ju, Pradeep Cholan, Richard Tan, Dr Yen Chin Koay

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