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Prestige 40 Under 40 2020: Dr Clara Cheong

Clara Cheong

39, Head of Administration and Scientific Affairs at Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

Having always been curious about the natural world, Clara graduated from Cornell University with a double major in Biology and Chemistry, before completing a PhD in Developmental Biology from NUS, in a programme jointly run with the Genome Institute of Singapore. In 2008, she joined the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) as a research fellow and worked her way up to become a research scientist.

As a resident judge on three seasons of a local TV science show for kids, she gained more interest in science communications and took on a Scientific Officer role at SICS, which gradually expanded into her current role as Head of Administration and Scientific Affairs. “I help to shape the organisational framework to support appropriate resource allocations that drive research and good science, as well as work to harness the expertise and brilliant ideas that researchers have.”

One of the major studies she is currently involved in is the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study, which started in 2008 and has followed over a thousand mothers and children since the women were expecting. “We’re looking to see how studies like GUSTO can be a bigger resource to seed more research, activities and programmes that fuel positive change in the long-term health of Singaporeans.”