Croucher scholars featured in Nature as science stars of East Asia

23 July 2018

Professor Malik Peiris and Professor Vivian Yam are named “Science Stars of East Asia” by the editors of Nature.

Professor Malik Peiris

Professor Malik Peiris (Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowship 2005), an infectious-disease specialist in Hong Kong, has made important contributions in understanding emerging viruses at the animal-human interface. His research has provided understanding on the emergence and pathogenesis of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus and on avian influenza viruses H5N1, H9N2 and H7N9. Professor Peiris’ work also provided evidence-based options for the control of these viruses in poultry and in humans. He played a key role in 2003 in the discovery of the novel coronavirus that causes SARS and its diagnosis and pathogenesis.

Currently, Professor Peiris is studying MERS coronavirus and the pathogenesis, innate immune responses, transmission, ecology and epidemiology of human and animal (poultry, swine, wild birds) influenza viruses.

Professor Vivian Yam

Professor Vivian Yam (Croucher Senior Research Fellowship 2000 and Croucher Studentship 1985) is a chemist well known for her work on light-emitting materials.

She designs affordable and environmentally friendly OLEDs options. “If we can improve the performance of these devices, we can save a lot of energy,” she says.

She has spent more than two decades creating metal-containing compounds with unique abilities to absorb and emit light. Such technologies could be used, for example, to harness solar energy, sense early signs of Alzheimer’s disease in people’s brains and create various types of OLED display. Professor Yam is the youngest person elected as a member to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

To develop highly efficient phosphorescent OLEDs, she bypassed iridium and platinum, two commonly used materials. Instead, she went with gold, which is more abundant, environmentally benign, and cheaper. She eventually made the world’s first gold-based phosphorescent OLEDs.

Professor Yam’s work caught the attention of TCL, a firm based in neighbouring Guangdong province and one the world’s largest producers of TV sets. The company established a joint laboratory with Yam to develop gold-based versions of printable OLED materials, currently a hot field in the TV industry. If her work pans out, her invention could light up the lives of people across the world.