NCCR conference focuses on advances in COVID-19 research
Themed ‘Conference of very important disease (COVID-19),’ the 3-day conference was officiated by Dato’ Sri Dr Adham Baba, Minister of Health. In his opening address, Adham said it was encouraging to see the wider application of online platforms, machine learning, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), genomics, robotics and 3D-printing to facilitate healthcare delivery services. He added: “Whilst we are seeing tremendous opportunities in these areas, we still require ongoing research to monitor outcomes, especially centric to the patient.”
The highlight of the conference was the CRC Named Lecture by Director-General of Health, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah who presented a talk titled ‘Battling Against COVID-19.’ Additionally, the conference received a total of 194 scientific abstracts submissions from a wide range of areas—clinical, biomedical, public health, digital health, health systems research and behavioural research. These were submitted for the e-Poster as well as for the Dr Wu-Lien Teh Research Awards categories.
During the conference, Adham presented the Young Investigator Awards (YIA), a subcategory of the Dr Wu-Lien Teh Research Awards, to the winners. Dr Git Kim Ann, a radiologist and imaging informatics professional from Hospital Selayang, was awarded the YIA winner for optimizing an AI model in the detection of COVID-19 on chest radiographs. The multi-centre study involving five study sites and seven investigators, would further complement the ability to detect COVID-19.
Subsequently, Dr Wong Xin Ci and Dr Kuan Pei Xuan, both of the Institute for Clinical Research (ICR), were awarded the first and second runner-up, respectively, for their work on COVID-19 research as well. Wong’s study in determining the risk factors associated with the disease severity could potentially help in risk stratification for COVID-19 patients while Kuan’s health systems research provides a model in testing the bed capacity preparedness of Malaysian hospitals to overcome surge capacity. Researchers Mohamad Hasnan Ahmad and Wan Shakira Rodzlan Hasani, of the Institute for Public Health; Jeyanthi Suppiah, of the Institute for Medical Research; and Chiew Shoen Chuen, of Clinical Research Centre in Hospital Seri Manjung, were all awarded the YIA Merit awards.
During the conference, the MOH’s efforts in handling the pandemic were highlighted by Datuk Dr Rohaizat Yon, Deputy Director-General of Health (Medical Development), and Dato’ Dr Chong Chee Kheong , Deputy Director-General of Health (Public Health). The findings from multidisciplinary research and sharing of experience from infectious disease experts during the conference highlighted the importance of clinical research and the need for more of it in this field for better clinical decision-making in Malaysia’s public health response.
The NCCR conference aimed to bring together medical experts and researchers under one platform to explore disruptive technologies, interdisciplinary digital health research and coordinated efforts to advance research in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. It is organized by the ICR and supported by Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM) and Collaborative Research in Engineering, Science and Technology Centre (CREST), The conference was conducted on a virtual format this year, and saw participation by 17 renowned speakers from Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea and UK.