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Prof. Chi-Huey Wong ‒ First Glycoscientist Receives 2021 Welch Award in Chemistry

 

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Dr. Chi-Huey Wong

The Welch Foundation has announced that Academician Chi-Huey Wong, the Distinguished Research Fellow of Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica has been awarded the 2021 Welch Award in Chemistry.

The Welch Award in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Robert A. Welch Foundation, based in Houston, Texas, to encourage basic chemical research and to recognize the value of chemical research contributions for the benefit of humankind.

“Dr. Wong has been working towards to improve the lives of others through the advancement of chemical research for decades,” said Carin Barth, Chair and Director, The Welch Foundation Board of Directors. “Not only has he made revolutionary advances in chemistry and biology, but his methodologies will facilitate new drug and vaccine developments for years to come.”

The foundation cited Dr. Wong's lifetime achievements in the field of glycoscience, much of his work for the past three decades has focused on the importance of carbohydrates in the active immunization and treatment of cancers and infectious diseases.

His work since the 1980’s resulted in the development of brilliant scientific and technological tools including effective synthesis of complex polysaccharide antigens and glycoconjugates, suppression of autoimmune phenomena, homogenous antibodies, boosting the memory of the immune system and enhancing its cancer and virus killing abilities, and highly sensitive analytical methods.

Recently, these tools and methods were instrumental in creating a vaccine that targets carbohydrates specific to the surface of cancer cells. His vaccine is currently going through several clinical trials for the treatment of breast, pancreatic, gastric, colorectal and lung cancers.

Until now, Dr. Wong is still aiming on development of universal vaccines against viral infection and cancers. The outbreaks of pandemic Covid-19 have been significant threats to public health, Dr. Wong has worked with Dr. Alex Ma and Dr. Kuo-I Lin at the Genomics Research Center to develop a universal vaccine - a monoglycosylated spike protein vaccine that designed to protect against many different variants of coronaviruses.
RELATED INFORMATION: https://www.genomics.sinica.edu.tw/2015/index.php/en/news/lastest-news/660-2021-06-02-07-00-23

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Dr. Wong is also working to design new drugs and repurpose existing drugs against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A GRC team led by Professors Shang-Cheng Hung and Chi-Huey Wong successfully used a one-pot catalytic asymmetric phosphoramidation method to improve the last 2-step preparation of Remdesivir. On the whole, their approach both significantly improves the yield of Remdesivir and achieves a cost reduction.
RELATED INFORMATION: https://www.genomics.sinica.edu.tw/index.php/en/news/lastest-news/652-2021-04-06-02-18-27

In addition, Dr. Wong’s team has working together with Dr. Jia-Tsrong Jan and uHTS colleagues from the Genomics Research Center and Professor Pi-Hui Liang from School of Pharmacy in National Taiwan University. By the help of the High Throughput Core Facility and P3 lab, they have used a cell-based infection assay and screened more than 3,000 existing drugs to find out the repurposed drugs showing promise as Covid-19 treatments.
RELATED INFORMATION: https://www.genomics.sinica.edu.tw/index.php/en/news/lastest-news/644-2021-01-15-02-13-45

Dr. Wong is a highly respected and influential leader who has made numerous discoveries in the fields of chemical biology and synthetic chemistry. His work has enabled our understanding of carbohydrates in biology and created new opportunities in medicine. And, his academic contribution has been recognized by many international awards, including the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, which is one of the world's highest achievement awards. Now he is recognized by the Welch Award in Chemistry and became the first scholar based in Taiwan to receive this award.

Presentation of the Welch award will be taken place at the foundation's annual awards banquet in Houston in October 25-26. At the award ceremony, Dr. Wong was invited to give a 40-minute speech, address on his chemical research contributions which have had a significant influence on humankind. In the future, these research results will continue to nourish human life and make a longer-term impact on disease treatment.

The Welch Foundation press release: https://welch1.org/news-reports/news/the-welch-foundation-announces-2021-welch-award-recipient

 

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