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Merdeka Award Announces Inaugural Recipients of the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment

Kuala Lumpur, Friday, 28 June 2013:-
 
The Board of Trustees of the Merdeka Award today announced it had awarded two eminent young Malaysians grants for short-term programmes under its Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment.
 
The two recipients are Assistant Professor Dr Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam, 34, and Dr Natrah Fatin Mohd Ikhsan, 33
 
Dr Abhimanyu holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Oncology) qualification from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Sciences) from University Putra Malaysia. He is currently an Assistant Professor as well as Director of Scientific Foundations of Medicine at the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine.
 
He is planning to strengthen his research on the identification of molecular markers for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of bladder cancer through greater molecular understanding of the disease.
 
Dr Natrah holds a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences (Aquaculture) from the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at the University of Ghent, Belgium, and is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Aquaculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia. 
 
She plans to further her work on understanding molecular microbial ecology towards sustainable agriculture production.
 
The announcement of the two Merdeka Award Grant recipients was made by the Chairman of the Merdeka Award Trust, His Royal Highness Raja Dr Nazrin Shah Ibni Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah, the Regent of Perak Darul Ridzuan, at a special event held at the Malaysian Petroleum Club, Kuala Lumpur, this afternoon.

The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, a signature outreach programme of the Merdeka Award Trust, is a short-term grant designed to make it possible for qualified Malaysians, between the ages of 22-35 to engage in collaborative projects/programmes at selected, internationally-recognised host institutions.
 
The Grant creates the opportunity for recipients to establish contact and working relationships with other experts in their fields, share knowledge and expertise, and upon their return, use these relationships and shared knowledge to further build on the body of work in his or her area of research. 
 
Two awards are given out each year, with Dr Abhimanyu and Dr Natrah being the first ever recipients of the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment.
 
The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment is designed to identify and recognise outstanding young Malaysians who personify the Spirit of Merdeka, and those who, in their own way, demonstrate a commitment to excellence.  The Grant provides them the opportunity to expand their network and to enhance research collaborations.
 
A total of 60 strong applications were received and after a stringent evaluation process, the Selection Committee, led by Secretary to the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah and comprising the human resources heads of PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, had shortlisted five candidates who were presented to the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees, who made the final selection. 
 
The two recipients for the Merdeka Award Grant 2012-2013 are fitting pioneer recipients of the Grant as both of them have chosen to focus on areas of study beneficial not just to Malaysia, but to a wider global community.  
 
Commenting on receiving the Grant, Dr Abhimanyu said, “The experience, technologies and knowledge gained will help elevate my research and develop long-standing collaborations to accelerate the discovery of novel targets for the improved management of bladder cancers. I also hope the work I do while on the Merdeka Award Grant attachment will enhance Malaysia’s influence in the global effort against cancer.
 
“In addition, I plan to understand the mechanism of collaboration and bring it to practice with the various institutions I am already working with here in Malaysia. Through the conferences and seminars that I organise and participate in Malaysia, I will share this knowledge with our local researchers and engage the younger generation,” he added.
 
Dr Natrah said: “The knowledge, expertise, ideas and experiences this attachment provides will not only be shared with fellow academicians, government bodies as well as the industrial sector, but will also be shared with young Malaysians in the hope of igniting a passion in science and agriculture amongst them.  Malaysia has great potential to develop this sector, and I hope to play a role in helping it gain attention and stature.”

Those interested in knowing more about the experiences of the Merdeka Award Grant recipients can track the preparation, attachment and return of the two recipients through postings on the Merdeka Award Facebook page and the Merdeka Award blog.
 
In conjunction with today’s announcement, the Merdeka Award Trust also announced the launch of the Call-to-Entry for applications to the 2013-2014 Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment. 

For more information on the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, and to submit applications, please visit
www.merdekaaward.my.  Closing date for applications is October 31, 2013.
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