These Asian scientists changed the world


Professor Masayo Takahashi

Named one of “Nature” magazine’s top 5 “Scientists to Watch in 2014,” Takahashi was declared one of the publication’s “10 People Who Mattered in 2014.” This dynamic, young researcher established her credentials by performing “the world’s first induced pluripotent stem cell-derived transplant into humans,” according to

Currently a member of RINKENs Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) faculty, she graduated Kyoto University in 1986, but credits the neural stem cell project she took part in at the Salk Institute of San Diego as the catalyst for her life’s work: becoming a global leader on the topic of retinal regeneration.


Ms. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

As chairman and managing director of Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is India’s First Lady of Biotech, heading a billion-dollar biopharmaceutical company with modest beginnings. Named one of 50 top business women by “Financial Times” and one of “Forbes” magazine’s 100 most powerful women in the world, her journey began with the brewery she launched that lead to the divestiture of Biocon’s “enzyme portfolio” so she could focus on biopharmaceuticals. Her biggest priority? Producing and marketing affordable, generic drugs. Currently, she is helping to develop the world’s first insulin tablet.


Professor Usa Thisyakorn

Professor Thisyakorn witnessed devastating dengue fever outbreaks in her home country, Thailand. It helped drive the budding scientist into the field of infectious diseases. Having experienced crises that broke out in 1987 and 2015, Thisyakorn became the chairperson of the Asian Dengue Vaccine Advocacy group (established in 2011), an agency focusing on research and vaccine development. Currently, she’s exploring the role urbanization and population play on the spread of infectious diseases and helped draft Thailand’s strategic plan for managing and eliminating diseases like dengue fever. She was also instrumental in organizing the landmark Asia Dengue Summit in 2016.


Professor Gloria Lim

As the first female Director of Singapore’s National Institute of Education, Gloria Lim has been breaking barriers since 1949 when she joined the science faculty of the University of Malaya. While becoming a renowned botanist, she fought to find acceptance in a society that considered women unsuited to scientific study. Lim was tenacious, becoming the first woman to serve as NUS female dean and first female member of the Public Service Commission (PSC). Awarded a Public Service Star in 1993 and given the title of distinguished science alumni, Lim earned a PhD at the University of London and has published hundreds of research papers and books on her favourite topic, mycology.


Doctor Kim Ping Wong

At 76-years-old, biochemist Sit Kim Ping (aka Kim Ping Wong) is a legend at the National University of Singapore where she was a professor for more years than she cares to admit. Born in China, she attended graduate school at Canada’s McGill University in 1965 where she focused on molecular and cellular biology. Professor Sit is a respected expert on the topic of metabolic processes, conducting detoxification research decades before detox diets became trendy! One of her biggest accomplishments was refuting cancer cell research published by noted German biologist Otto Warburg. Her published 2011 and 2015 ovarian and renal cancer studies are required reading for today’s biology student.


Ms. Tetchi Cruz-Capellan

As founder of the Philippine Solar Power Alliance and CEO of SunAsia Energy, Cruz-Capellan is using her homeland, the Philippines, as her laboratory to promote renewable energy throughout the nation. Appointed “director of a rural electrification project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),” her tireless efforts regularly make headlines. Willing to brave the mire of governmental regulations to further her goals, she helped draft the nation’s Renewable Energy Law of 2008. Of late, her company began partnering with European companies helping to underwrite solar installations in remote areas of the Philippines. One of her long-term goals is to make her homeland a shining example of the power of renewable energy.


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