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Driving the Pace of Cancer Research

​Fiona Liaw, Senior Medical Laboratory Scientist (Clinical) , Cytogenics, SGH

As a Senior Medical Laboratory Scientist with the Cytogenetics Laboratory, Department of Molecular Pathology, Ms Fiona Liaw, who has been with Singapore General Hospital for the past 20 years, prides herself in being able to keep pace with the rapidly evolving field of clinical genomics.

“Clinical genomics is evolving very quickly with new technologies and techniques being introduced all the time. As medical laboratory scientists, we need to keep up with the fast pace of development or be left behind,” she said. “For instance, even though the field of omics technology is only a few years old, it has already led to major advances in the knowledge of the basic biology of cancer risk and progression, opened avenues for new biomarker discovery and development of novel diagnostics, and given a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying response to therapy.”

Fiona keeps up-to-date with the latest advances and trends by reading research papers, attending online conferences, courses and forums, easily spending up to 10-15 hours on average each week doing so.

She is currently part of an exciting collaborative project between SGH and the National Cancer Centre Singapore. Funded by the SingHealth Duke-NUS Pathology Academic Clinical Programme (ACP) where she is the Principal Investigator, the project investigates on the use of a new cocktail of mitogens (stimulants that induce cell division) to improve the detection of malignant cells in our body.

If cancer cells can be detected and characterised earlier, patients will be able to start treatment earlier with a better chance of recovery.