The Macao SAR Government presented the 2022 Macao Science and Technology Awards yesterday (16 November). Three PhD students from the University of Macau (UM) Faculty of Health Sciences: Fang WANG, Xiaoju MEN, Zhan ZHANG were selected by the evaluation committee of the Macao Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) for the Technological R&D Award for Postgraduates.

Fang WANG obtained the award with the research project entitled “Transcription in Fungal Conidia before Dormancy Produces Phenotypically Variable Conidia that Maximize Survival in Different Environments”. Her finding uncovers how the fungal spores prepare materials for their further survival, including virulence and toxin production capability et al., and has far-reaching significance to pathogenic fungi understanding. The discovery is published in the reputable journal Nature Microbiology, being spotlighted on the cover page of the journal. Xiaoju MEN participated in the research project namely “Ultrasmall Semiconducting Polymer Dots with Rapid Clearance for Second Near-Infrared Photoacoustic Imaging and Photothermal Cancer Therapy”. She constructed a biodegradable second near-infrared highly absorbing conjugated polymer dots with rapid clearance for photoacoustic imaging-guided photothermal cancer therapy. Semiconducting polymer dots have good biocompatibility and can be rapidly metabolized from the body through the kidneys. This pilot study paves a novel avenue for the development of organic semiconducting nanoagents for future cancer translation studies. The results were published in the world-known journal Advanced Functional Materials. Zhan ZHANG has developed a nanomedicine based on the coordination between metal ions and polyphenols, which realized the combination of cancer photodynamic therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. This novel cancer treatment strategy has been published in the internationally renowned journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Fang WANG, Xiaoju MEN, Zhan ZHANG all thought that the award is not only a recognition on their research work, but also a shot in the arm for their research path, encouraging them to conduct innovative research with flying colours. They are grateful to their supervisors, Prof. Chris Koon Ho WONG, Prof. Zhen YUAN and Prof. Yunlu DAI for their earnest inculcation and inspiration. Learning from Prof. Wong’s word and deed, Fang WANG realised that what drives researchers further is diligent work in a pragmatic manner, analytical ability, foresight and willingness to listen to opinions. Like other researchers, Xiaoju MEN experienced many research challenges. Being encouraged by Prof. Yuan, she gathered pieces of information by reading abundant publications for the purpose of increasing her stock in knowledge and critical thinking skill to analyze from every angle. From Zhan ZHANG’s perspective, goal-setting is an essential tool for self-motivation of a researcher. He shares the same belief of Prof. Dai that details determine success or failure. Thus, he always pays attention to details in his research. Zhan ZHANG also mentioned that he treasures every learning and research opportunity offered by FHS for the quality doctoral training, which involves significant investments of manpower and resources.

The science and technology awards aim to recognise and commend outstanding contributions and excellence among local scientists and technologists for their dedication and achievements, inspire the enthusiasm and the creativity of local researchers, and accelerate the development of scientific and technological undertakings in Macao. The presentation of the Macao S&T Award is conducted every two years. The established awards are 1) Science & Technology Award, 2) Scientific and Technological R&D Award for Postgraduates and 3) Special Award. The Scientific and Technological R&D Award for Postgraduates is a recognition for the postgraduates who have taken an active part and played an important role in the scientific and technological research and development of their institutions of higher learning, and it is also an encouragement for them to participate in scientific and technological research and development.

The award presentation ceremony for the Macao Science and Technology Awards 2022


Xiaoju MEN (left) and Zhen YUAN (right)

Zhan ZHANG (1st row, 2nd from right) and Yulun DAI (1st row, 1st from right)