BRACE Program Launched by Asian Fund for Cancer Research


 – 23
September 2019 – 
The Hong Kong-based Asian Fund
for Cancer Research (AFCR) last Thursday, September 19, introduced Bridging
Research from Academia to Cancer Entrepreneurship. The program was inaugurated in
Singapore as the first of what will be a series of BRACE Award Competitions
throughout Asia. Conducted over the course of the day, the event culminated in
the selection of the cancer research project presented by F. Joel Leong, M.D.,
Ph.D., chief development officer at A*STAR’s Experimental Drug Discovery
Centre, as its winner and the project presented by Volker Patzel, Ph.D.,
assistant professor at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School
of Medicine, as its runner-up.


BRACE Award Competitions aim to
identify and catalyze early-stage cancer laboratory discoveries with viable
clinical trial pathways. The first such event featured 20 individual research projects
from institutions including the National University of Singapore, the National
Cancer Centre Singapore, three A*STAR research entities, the Hong Kong
University of Science and Technology and multiple young cancer technology


Evaluating the presentations was a
panel of world-class cancer research professionals, including AFCR scientific
advisory board members. Its members were Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research’s
Webster Cavenee, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School’s Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., former
Avera Cancer Institute’s Brian Leyland-Jones, M.D., Ph.D., Eight Roads
Ventures’ Will Liu, Ph.D., National Cancer Centre Singapore’s Kanaga Sabapathy,
Ph.D., University of Hong Kong’s George Tsao, Ph.D., National Foundation for
Cancer Research’s (NFCR) Michael Wang, M.D., Ph.D., and MD Anderson Cancer
Center’s W.K. Alfred Yung, M.D.


Dr. Leong’s winning project
comprises ETC-159, a novel small molecule drug candidate for colorectal cancer
and other solid tumours. Dr. Patzel’s r
unner-up project
represents a unique gene therapy delivery vector targeting hepatocellular
carcinoma. The BRACE Award Competition’s other three finalists were the cancer
research projects presented by Duke-NUS Medical School Professor and Lion TCR
Scientific Founder Antonio Bertoletti, M.D., Cancer Science Institute of
Singapore Senior Research Scientist Bee Hui Liu, Ph.D., and A*STAR’s Genome
Institute of Singapore Principal Investigator Wai Leong Tam, Ph.D.


The awardees, along with those selected
at future BRACE Award Competitions,
introduced by AFCR to its funded scientists,
scientific advisory board members and other affiliates pertinent to their
research, including fellows of U.S.-based NFCR. In addition, start-up firms
which license the projects or are formed to further develop them can in the
future compete for multiyear recoverable translational research grants or
equity investments.


“We are tremendously excited to have held
so successful an inaugural BRACE Award Competition” said AFCR Chief Executive
Officer Sujuan Ba, Ph.D., the organization’s founder. “This new program aims to
raise the profile of lab breakthroughs which can anchor future novel cancer therapies
and other technologies.”


“The BRACE Award Competition program
will certainly help catalyze laboratory cancer research in the region,” expressed
AFCR Chairman of the Board Gary (Gee Nung) Wong, a partner of Hugill & Ip
Solicitors, which, along with NFCR and Esco Ventures, sponsored last night’s

About the Asian Fund for Cancer Research

The Asian Fund for Cancer Research (AFCR) is a
non-profit organization committed to curing cancers that have significant
impacts on Asian populations. Headquartered in Hong Kong, AFCR is uniquely
positioned to implement in Asia the newest cancer research discoveries and
technologies from around the world, investigate the distinct causes of cancer
in Asian populations through innovative genetic and molecular research, and
develop more effective therapies tailored to the region’s cancer patients. For
more information, visit


About Hugill & Ip Solicitors

Hugill & Ip
Solicitors is an independent law firm providing bespoke legal advice and
exceptional client service to individuals, families, entrepreneurs and
businesses, in Hong Kong and internationally. Hugill & Ip provides high
quality legal services with integrity, professionalism and respect for clients
and the community. For more information, visit