Congratulations to Professor Dr. Vorasuk Shotelersuk of the Centre of Excellence for Medical Genetics, Chulalongkorn University, for being the first Thai researcher to receive the Newton Prize 2017. Professor Vorasuk was awarded the prize for his research on Molecular Pathology of Rare Genetic Diseases in Children.
The Newton Prize is a research fund that is awarded to researchers to work, through a partnership with the UK, on the most important challenges in Newton countries and solve global challenges. The winners were selected by the Newton Prize Committee using a consistent scoring system and the prize is awarded to Newton funded projects that have made an economic or social impact on the country. Professor Dr. Vorasuk Shotelersuk speaks about the moment he received the award with pride . He stated that, “It is a great honour. It shows that an international-level organization sees the commitment and hard work that our team of doctors, researchers and staffs have put in. I thank the patients and their family for giving us undivided support and we hope that our work will be of lasting benefit.”
Dr. Vorasuk received the Newton Fund scholarship two years ago to study rare genetic diseases with less than 1:2,000 prevalence rate in Thailand. Although rare, the diseases are discovered time and time again, are often hereditary and is comprised of at least 10,000 diseases. Up to 5 million people in Thailand could be suffering from a variety of rare genetic diseases. Without enough experienced doctors, the diagnostic process becomes long and difficult. A partnership with the UK to study rare diseases provides a network and system that shortens the time required to analyze these diseases and reduces the cost for healthcare. Dr. Vorasuk added that he plans to expand the scope of work between hospitals in regional areas and collaborate with the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University and Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital to develop high-quality research tools. We will set up a genetic sequence analysis programme and a complete national database of rare diseases, which can be distributed to doctors and hospitals across the region.
“The challenge I faced in the past was that there was not enough people with knowledge or interest in this field. This research was well-supported by Chulalongkorn University and Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, in raising money and find funds from inside and outside the country. With more funds, we will be able to help more patients and at a faster rate”, added Dr. Vorasuk.