Malaysian Oil Scientists’ And Technologists’ Association (Persatuan Ahli Sains and Technologi Minyak Malaysia)
9.00 am – 10.00 am Registration/Coffee
10.00 am – 11.00 am Talk by Prof Ong Wei Yi on Role of
Phospholipases A2 in the Brain
11.00 am – 12.30 pm AGM
12.30pm – Buffet Lunch at Coffee House
Professor Ong Wei Yi
- B.D.S. Faculty of Dentistry, National University of Singapore 1985
- Ph.D. Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore 1991
2. Current appointments
- Professor, Department of Anatomy, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
- Assistant Head, Department of Anatomy, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
- Director, Electron Microscopy Unit, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
- Principal Investigator, Neurobiology and Ageing Research Programme, Life Sciences Institute, National University of Singapore
- Convenor, Technical Committee on Health Effects of Engineered Nanomaterials, Singapore
3. Working experience
- National University of Singapore, Department of Anatomy, Professor 2017
- National University of Singapore, Department of Anatomy, Associate Professor 1999- 2016.
- National University of Singapore, Department of Anatomy, Senior Lecturer / Assistant Professor 1996 – 1999
- National University of Singapore, Department of Anatomy, Lecturer 1992 – 1996
- National Institute for Medical Research, Laboratory of Neurobiology, London, United Kingdom Postdoctoral Fellow 1990 – 1992
- National University of Singapore, Department of Anatomy, Senior Tutor 1987 – 1990
- Singapore Armed Forces (National Service) Dental Officer 1985-1987
4. Academic achievements
I have published a total of 168 papers on a coherent theme “Translational Aspects of Lipid Biology in the CNS” as first or corresponding / senior authorship (i.e. co-publications with my graduate students as first authors) in peer-reviewed publications. For these papers, I play a significant role by attending regular meetings with the researchers or students involved to discuss the progress of the research, as well as provide insights to the research methodology and interpretation. Since my area of interest, on translational aspects of lipid biology in the CNS is still in infancy, there are no specialized journals on this topic. Hence, for the more “basic science” aspects of my work, I publish with the top neuroscience journals such as Journal of Neuroscience, Molecular Neurobiology and Journal of Neurochemistry, and top generalist journals such as FASEB journal, and Free Radical Biology and Medicine. For the more translational aspects of my work on brain lipids, I publish in top anaesthesiology journals such as “Pain” and top neuropsychopharmacology journals such as “International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology”.
- The ‘total impact factor’ of my papers published in the last 3 years is ranked in the 88.6th percentile (top 11.4%) in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
- This is an indication of current productivity and impact compared to other academic staff in the Faculty.
- All my papers were published while I am in NUS.
5. Research program
I am a pioneer in NUS in employing an integrated anatomical-neurochemical approach to study the brain. This advances our understanding of the neurochemistry of the brain in the context of anatomical structures, and is very important, since even closely related regions of the brain can have different neurochemistry and hence different functions. I have applied this approach to study the my research focus area on ‘Translational Aspects of Lipid Biology in the CNS’ of relevance to a fast-ageing population in Singapore and many parts of the world. My high impact publications spanning the last 20 years demonstrate a systematic trajectory of research that is based on seminal observations of basic biological principles, advances to the identification of novel drug targets, and culminates in the early development of lead compounds and novel drug delivery technologies. There are a number of fundamental principles that have guided this body of work: a) The brain is very complex anatomically, with point-to-point connections at the microscopic level, an area suited to my initial Ph.D. training in neuroanatomy and electron microscopy. For example, the lateral hypothalamus is involved in the feeling of hunger, whereas the closely related ventromedial hypothalamus mediates satiety. Likewise, the substantia nigra pars compacta contains mainly dopaminergic neurons, whereas its neighbor, the substantia nigra pars reticulata contains GABAergic neurons. b) Neurochemically, the brain is very rich in lipids – it is whitish in colour due to its high lipid content. Changes in lipids on the cell membrane would affect the function of ion channels and transporters that are embedded in the cell membrane and neuronal signaling. Moreover, many lipids and their metabolites are powerful signaling molecules with their own receptors, but anatomical localization of the vast majority of lipid metabolizing enzymes and receptors in the brain is unknown.c) Many of the risk genes related to Alzheimer’s disease such as apoE are related to lipid metabolism, and more lipid-related genes have recently been discovered which are related to sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. d) Very little is known about the distribution and function of brain lipids and their metabolizing enzymes and proteins from the time I started this line of investigation, but is attracting increasing attention internationally. In view of the above, I have incubated an environment composed of a multidisciplinary team of researchers who collaborate for the singular purpose of improving healthcare and patient outcome in Singapore. It is important to note that the features of my research program described here are advantageous in training and guiding the next generation of researchers, thus providing both direct and indirect benefit to the development of medical technologies.
6. Research program in the last five years
Translational Aspects of Lipid Biology in the Central Nervous System (Please see above).
Role of Phospholipases A2 in the Brain
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and Ageing Research Programme, National University of Singapore. Singapore 119260. E-mail:email@example.com
The phospholipase A2 (PLA2) family includes cytosolic and secretory isoforms, that are expressed in many tissues of the body, and are also found in snake and bee venom. Cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) is expressed at low levels in the normal forebrain, but is increased during neurodegeneration. cPLA2 releases arachidonic acid from glycerophospholipids on the cell membrane to generate eicosanoids and platelet activating factor. These mediators are involved in neurological disorders such as ischemia, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. The expression of cPLA2 is epigenetically regulated by histone proteins and certain naturally occurring compounds / nutraceuticals.
In contrast to cPLA2, calcium independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2) is expressed at high levels in the normal brain, but is decreased during neurodegeneration. Mutations in this isoform are found in some cases of Parkinson’s disease. iPLA2 catalyzes the release of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from cellular membranes. It plays an important physiological role in long-term potentiation and spatial working memory and mediates the antidepressant and antinociceptive effects of the certain antidepressants.
iPLA2 likely work in tandem with downstream enzymes, e.g. 15 lipoxygenase, which metabolize DHA to resolvins and neuroprotectins. Together, results indicate an important role of fatty acids and their metabolites, in the physiology and pathophysiology of the CNS (Central Nervous System)