Asia’s Rising Scientists: Suidjit Luanpitpong

Cancer still strikes fear, but researchers like Suidjit Luanpitpong are working on treatments so that a diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.

Suidjit Luanpitpong
Senior Researcher
Siriraj Center of Excellence for Stem Cell Research (SiSCR)
Mahidol University

AsianScientist (Feb. 27, 2017) – At age 32, Dr. Suidjit Luanpitpong is the youngest recipient of the L’Oreal UNESCO for Women in Science Award for Thailand. Luanpitpong, who is currently a senior researcher at the Siriraj Center of Excellence for Stem Cell Research (SiSCR), won the award’s life science category in 2016.

Aside from her work on non-Hodgkin lymphoma which was recognized by the jury committee, Luanpitpong is also known for her research on cancer stem cells. As she begins to move her results from the lab to the clinic, Luanpitpong is a promising young research well worth keeping on your radar.

  1. How would you summarize your research in a tweet (140 characters)?

    My research focuses on understanding the protein regulation through post-translational modifications and how they are related to human diseases, such as cancers.

  2. Describe a completed research project that you are proudest of.

    I would say I’m proud of them all, but the most recent completed and ongoing projects always get better appreciation. In a recent study, my colleagues and I identified the protein regulatory axis that is associated with advanced stage lung cancers and demonstrated its novel role in the regulation of cancer stem cells. We believe that our findings potentially provide a novel target for cancer therapy that may overcome cancer chemoresistance and relapse.

  3. What do you hope to accomplish with your research in the next decade?

    I hope that our work will lay a basis for an effective approach to treat cancers and I wish to move forward from basic research and pre-clinical trials to clinical trials.

  4. Luanpitpong (fifth from right) with colleagues at a conference. Credit: Suidjit Luanpitpong.

  5. Who (or what) motivated you to go into your field of study?

    The longstanding mystery of why we develop cancers first caught my attention as a student. I am very fortunate to work with many excellent mentors, including Professors Ubonthip Nimmannit and Pithi Chanvorachote from Chulalongkorn University; Professor Yon Rojanaskul from Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center; and Emeritus Professors Surapol Issaragrisil, Davor Solter and Barbara Knowles from Siriraj Center of Excellence for Stem Cell Research at Mahidol University.

  6. What is the biggest adversity that you experienced in your research?

    Now that I am starting to use clinical samples in my research, the biggest effort goes to sample collection. Getting the timing right is important for obtaining fresh and good quality samples.

  7. What are the biggest challenges facing the academic research community today, and how can we fix them?

    With the high-throughput ‘omics technology, I believe we are in the big data era that requires input from large number of people. Even with the collective effort of many researchers, the data might be too much to handle. We should promote collaborative research with an open mind and be willing to share ideas, findings and resources.

  8. If you had not become a scientist, what would you have become instead?

    If I were not a scientist, I think I would be an interior designer.

  9. Luanpitpong is most at home in the lab, but might have been an interior designer in another life. Credit: Suidjit Luanpitpong.

  10. Outside of work, what do you do to relax?

    I enjoy running with my dog at the end of the day and travelling.

  11. If you had the power and resources to eradicate any world problem using your research, which one would you solve?

    I would eradicate people’s fear of cancers by making cancers treatable without affecting quality of life nor worrying about the recurrence.

  12. What advice would you give to aspiring researchers in Asia?

    Have fun at work! Seek opportunities or create new ones for yourself.

This article is from a monthly series called Asia’s Rising Scientists. Click here to read other articles in the series.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Suidjit Luanpitpong.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

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