Full name:


Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Malaysia
Date of Birth:


Affiliations (at the time of the award):




Medical and Health Sciences
Summary of body of work recognised by MSA:


The Academy of Sciences Malaysia decided to confer the Mahathir Science Award 2006 to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, for the exemplary way the team handled the Nipah outbreak and for their outstanding scientific work which has greatly enhanced the image of the Nation.
Latest Biography/Profile of Organisation: The Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya is the oldest and the largest Faculty offering Medical Education in Malaysia. It had its beginnings in 1964 and currently provides many academic programs and researches in health sciences including medicine, nursing, public health, allied health sciences and pharmacy.

Between September 1998 and June 1999, there was a severe outbreak of viral encephalitis among pig-farmers in Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor state, that affected more than 265 individuals. 91 patients from the outbreak were admitted to the University of Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, and there were 28 deaths.

The outbreak was originally thought to be due to Japanese Encephalitis but it turned out to be a new disease that was hitherto unknown to science. The multidisciplinary Nipah Virus Investigating Team, Faculty of Medicine, University Malaya was responsible for identifying the cause of the outbreak, a novel virus previously unknown to science. Together with the Hendra virus, it is now recognised as a new genus, Henipavirus (Hendra + Nipah), in the Paramyxoviridae family. The Team also helped to characterize the clinical manifestations, including the radiology, serology and other investigatory findings, its pathology and pathogenesis, the possible treatment for the infection; and identified the virus’s host reservoir. The team has contributed enormously to the many breakthroughs in the understanding of this new human disease, thus laying the foundation for the control of the outbreak and management of the patients.

Since the Malaysia/Singapore outbreaks, there were other outbreaks of Nipah Encephalitis in Bangladesh, India, and Philippine, confirming that Nipah Encephalitis is an important emerging infection in the region. The reservoir of the virus has also been found in the bats in large parts of Asia and Africa, indicating the potential of having similar disease in wide geographical regions globally. 

Their research of the virus have been published in more than 25 journals, including such high impact and well regarded journal as Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Annals of Neurology, American Journal of Pathology and Journal of Virology. The members of the Team were KB Chua who discovered the virus; CT Tan (Leader); KJ  Goh, HT Chong, KS Tan,  Vimalan R, NK Chew (Neurology);  Adeeba K (Infectious disease), Patrick Tan (Intensive care), KT Wong (Pathology), Sazilah Ahmad Sarji (Radiology), and SK Lam (Microbiology).