URICAS held their 6th Symposium on the 4th of February 2021. Due to current situations, the meeting was done in a virtual set-up via WebEx. The event was officiated by Yang Bahagia Prof Dato Ir Dr Abdul Rahman Mohamed, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of USM. The meeting also introduced Dr Takashi Kawabe as the new director of the RIKEN Singapore office.

During the meeting, both RIKEN and USM delegates discussed on the past activities on URICAS and the current situation of both institutes as well as suggestions on “The Way Forward”. The discussion was a fruitful one where many solutions were suggested. The event closed with speeches from Prof Shaharum Shamsuddin, USM’s URICAS Coordinator and Dr Todd Taylor, RIKEN’s URICAS Coordinator.

In conjunction with this meeting, URICAS has organized a video competition specifically for URICAS Youngsters. Youngsters talk about their projects in 3-minute long videos. The videos can be viewed on URICAS Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-PukhBko_pxGCagai2M5qBt4Bu8bFDck.

One of the main objectives of URICAS was to develop young research talents. Students selected for the prestigious IPA program were assigned a research project at any of the 10 RIKEN campuses in Japan to work under the supervision of a RIKEN principle investigator. Since URICAS started in 2015, we had 11 (6 short-term) and (5 long-term) IPA students. For this event, our previous and current IPA students under URICAS have prepared short videos to show their experience in both RIKEN and Japan. The videos can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-PukhBko_pyPxMrtSnAryTLvNUkcNJ9y

Promotional poster for the 6th URICAS Symposium
Happy faces of the USM and RIKEN delegates present for the meeting

Webinar Series for the Elderly

A series of webinars were conducted by the geriatric medicine experts at USM from the School of Medical Sciences in collaboration with URICAS. The main objective was to guide and provide solutions to the elderly on how to cope with the psychological stress and manage their existing medical conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. At later stages, the scope of the webinar series was expanded to address other issues facing the elderly in everyday life. Experts from various disciplines focusing on elderly issues were also invited to conduct the webinars. The first webinar entitled, Tip-tip positif untuk Warga Emas di musim PKPwas presented by Prof. Madya Dr. Asrenee Ab Razak on 23rd April 2020. The second webinar entitled, Pengurusan Diabetes semasa pandemic di Bulan Ramadhan was presented by Prof. Dr. Azidah Abd Kadir on 30th April 2020. The third webinar entitled, Pengurusan ubat-ubatan Warga Emas di Bulan Puasa was presented by Dr. Siti Nurbaya Mohd Nawi on 7th May 2020. The fourth webinar entitled, Minda ketara sedar Warga Emas: berkasih sayang dengan diri di waktu sukarwas presented by Prof. Madya Dr. Asrenee Ab Razak on 14th May 2020. The fifth webinar entitled, Penuaan aktif untuk hari tua yang lebih ceria was presented by Prof. Madya Dr. Saidatulakmal Mohd on 28th May 2020. The sixth webinar entitled, Pencegahan daripada jatuh dalam kalangan warga emas was presented by Dr. Siti Nurbaya Mohd Nawi on 4th June 2020. The seventh webinar entitled, Warga Emas dan Kesunyianwas presented by Prof. Madya Dr. Asrenee Ab Razak on 18th June 2020. The eight webinar entitled, Amalan Pengubatan Selamat Buat Warga Emaswas presented by Prof. Madya Dr. Balamurugan Tangiisuran on 16th July 2020.
The ninth webinar entitled, “Penuaan Aktif dan Media Sosial” was presented by Dr. Nik Norma Bte Nik Hasan on 23rd July 2020. The participants were invited to join the webinars via Webex video conferencing; whilst the live broadcasts were streamed on Facebook.

To watch the recorded webinars, please click on the links below:

  1. Tip-tip Positif Untuk Warga Emas di Musim PKP
  2. Pengurusan Diabetes Semasa Pandemik di Bulan Ramadhan
  3. Pengurusan Ubat-Ubatan Warga Emas di Bulan Puasa
  4. Minda Ketara Sedar Warga Emas: Berkasih Sayang dengan Diri di Waktu Sukar
  5. Penuaan Aktif Untuk Hari Tua Yang Lebih Ceria
  6. Pencegahan Daripada Jatuh Dalam Kalangan Warga Emas
  7. Warga Emas dan Kesunyian
  8. Amalan Pengubatan Selamat Buat Warga Emas
  9. Penuaan Aktif dan Media Sosial

Meeting with the Penang State Government & Visit to the Pusat Aktiviti Warga Emas (PAWE), Balik Pulau

On 25th February 2020, URICAS principal investigators, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Saidatul, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Badrul, and Dr. Eugene had a meeting with a Penang state executive councillor, YB Phee Boon Poh at his office in Komtar, Georgetown. YB Phee Boon Poh is the chairman of State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee. The objective of the meeting was to initiate a collaborative effort between the two parties to help the elderly in Penang. The URICAS team presented a proposal report to YB Phee, which details the target location, proposed programmes, and its benefits.

The proposal was received very positively by YB Phee and he has pledged to provide his support for the programmes. He has acknowledged that the programmes are much needed and will be greatly welcomed by the aged community. According to him, the proposed programmes are also in alignment with the agendas of Penang Vision 2030, which heavily emphasizes the issues of family and community. He has also recommended that the URICAS team prepare a more comprehensive proposal report (long, short and mid-term programmes) and define the terms of reference (TOR) so that it can be presented at the upcoming Penang State Exco meeting in March 2020. 

A few days after the meeting with YB Phee, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Saidatul and Dr. Eugene had travelled to the Pusat Aktiviti Warga Emas (PAWE) at Balik Pulau to meet its representatives. The URICAS team was given a tour of the centre by the representatives. A discussion with them had provided more clues on the needs of the local elderly community, which can be incorporated into the new proposal report. Apart from that, the feedback gathered during the visit could help the programme coordinators restructure their planned itinerary to increase the target audience’s participation.   

URICAS 2019 Workshop

The 5th URICAS Workshop was held on 25th – 26th November 2019 at RIKEN’s Singapore Representative office in Singapore. The objective of the workshop was to facilitate brainstorming sessions and conduct critical discussions on the future of URICAS beyond the year 2020. The year 2020 will mark the fifth year of the URICAS program and thus, provides a good impetus for self-examination and contemplation. The workshop was attended by the URICAS principal investigators (PIs) from Malaysia and Japan. Also invited to the Workshop were several independent reviewers from higher institutions of learning from Malaysia and Singapore.

The review committee was tasked with evaluating the achievements of URICAS since its inception in 2015 and the future viability of the program for the next five years, 2020-2025. To acquaint the reviewers with the URICAS program, they were provided with a whitepaper detailing its history and collaborative efforts. They were also given specific terms of references (TOR) as a guideline to perform the evaluation.

Fruitful discussions were had, and many impending issues were critically scrutinized by the PIs while being overlooked by the review committee. Towards the end of the workshops, the review committee gave an ad hoc summary of their findings and recommendations. An official report was prepared by the review committee and presented to the Vice-Chancellor of USM, Prof. Dr. Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan and the President of RIKEN, Dr. Hiroshi Matsumoto on 14th January 2020.

To download a copy of the report, please click on this link.

Postdoctoral Fellow Colloquium URICAS 2019

On 8th August 2019, Postdoctoral Fellow Colloquium URICAS 2019 was held in Seminar Room at TOARY Building, Universiti Sains Malaysia. The objective of the colloquium was to provide an opportunity to the postdoctoral fellows working under URICAS project to present their research findings in front of the URICAS principle investigators (PI). The colloquium was started at 10 am with presentation by Dr. Manoj Kumar Lakshmanan from School of Biological Sciences entitled “Development of New Biopolymers for Medical and Therapeutic Applications in Aged Patients”. The second presentation was given by Dr. Mardani Abdul Halim from School of Biological Sciences entitled “The Transcriptome of Ageing”. The colloquium adjourned at 12.30 pm.

URICAS SWOT Analysis Workshop & Jamuan Raya – 18 June 2019

On 18th June 2019, SWOT Analysis Workshop was held in Seminar Room 1 & 2 at Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine (INFORMM), Universiti Sains Malaysia. The objective of the workshop was to provide space for brainstorming sessions to set direction for URICAS after 2020, as well as to identify the weakness and advantage of each principle investigators (PI) in URICAS project. The workshop was attended by all the PIs and postdoctoral fellows of URICAS.

On the same day, Jamuan Hari Raya Aidilfitri URICAS was also held in the Club House of INFORMM, Universiti Sains Malaysia.  The event was also to celebrate the gratitude of the successful launch of the International Conference on Aging (ICA) 2019. Deputy Director of INFORMM, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sasidharan Sreenivasan and all INFORMM lecturers were also invited for the banquet.

Later in the afternoon, the outcome of the SWOT analysis was discussed and full report was successfully completed. The report is important to determine the future direction of URICAS Project.

URICAS Manuscript Writing Workshop 2019

On 3rd April 2019, a URICAS Manuscript Writing workshop was held in School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia. The objective of this workshop is to assist postgraduate students under the URICAS project on how to write manuscript research effectively. The facilitators for this workshop were Assoc. Prof. Dr Saiful and Assoc. Prof Dr Sasidharan.

URICAS Symposium 2019

This year’s URICAS symposium will be organised by Universiti Sains Malaysia on 6 March 2019 (Wednesday). The symposium will be held at the auditorium at the Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine (INFORMM), USM Main Campus in Penang. The symposium will be open to all.

International Conference on Ageing 2019

USM will be organising an international conference on March 7-8, 2019 in conjunction with USM’s 50th anniversary. The conference focuses on ‘ageing with dignity in a technological society’. The conference covers topics from fundamental life science to social issues affecting our daily lives. A diverse lineup of keynote and invited speakers are being finalised and will be announced soon. Please visit the conference page for details.

URICAS 2018 Symposium

The URICAS symposium this year was held at RIKEN’s Wako Campus on 1-2 February 2018. A series of presentations by USM and RIKEN principal investigators were held at the Suzuki Umetaro Hall.