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PETALING JAYA, 13 March 2024 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), through the School of Health Sciences (PPSK) and Centre for Global Archaeological Research (PPAG), recently has established a groundbreaking partnership with the Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC).

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This collaboration, marked by the signing of two Memorandums of Agreement (MoA), is poised to unravel the genetic secrets and historical chronicles of the Penang Woman.

The first MoA focuses on an in-depth study of the Penang Woman genetics, involving the extraction and analysis of genetic materials.

Through this collaboration, USM will provide materials and technical assistance, while MGRC Therapeutics will handle genomic DNA extraction and sequencing, along with funding support.

Joint responsibilities include preparing a research report, sharing knowledge, and co-authoring a peer-reviewed publication.

Parallel to this, the second MoA is dedicated to determining the age of the ancient Penang Woman skeleton using the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Dating technique, alongside conducting Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating on Guar Kepah pottery.

USM's expertise in AMS dating will be utilised, with funding support from MGRC, as both parties will engage in data analysis, interpretation, and co-authoring a manuscript for peer-reviewed publication, contributing significantly to the understanding of human history in the region.

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Signing on behalf of PPSK USM was the Dean, Professor Dr. Wan Rosli Wan Ishak and on behalf of PPAG USM was its Director, Professor Dr. Stephen Chia Ming Soon, representing the Vice-Chancellor, while on behalf of MGRC was its Executive Chairman, Azri Azerai.

Azri expressed enthusiasm about the collaborations, stating, "These research collaborations with USM are not just about delving into the past; they represent an exciting convergence of history, science, and technology.”

“By uncovering the genetic and historical narratives of Penang Woman, we're not only contributing to the academic and scientific community but also enhancing the brand awareness and technical prowess of MGRC.

“This venture into the unknown underscores our commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in genomics and biopharmaceuticals," he said.

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Assoc. Prof. Dr. Edinur Hisham Atan, from the USM School of Health Sciences, is the Principal Investigator for The Genetics of Penang Woman project, while USM PPAG Dr. Suresh A/l Narayanen is the Principal Investigator for Determining the Age of the Ancient Penang Woman Skeleton using AMS Dating Project.

This collaboration signifies a synergy of expertise and resources, promising groundbreaking insights into the genetic and historical aspects of the Penang Woman, further enriching the scientific and archaeological knowledge of the region.

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Text: Nur Farrah Ezlin Mohd Suhaimi  


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