Over the past nine years, the stem cell group at A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore has comprehensively assessed genes required for stem cell function, and helped to define the specific functions of these genes through cutting edge genetic technologies, such as genome-wide sequencing. These efforts have led to the discovery and definition of novel regulatory factors required for the functions of embryonic stem (ES) and other stem cells.

The team's work has advanced the capability to maintain and expand ES cells, and to direct their differentiation to create specialized cell types. This knowledge is critical for the successful application of stem cells for therapeutic, translational and academic purposes, particularly in providing industry, clinicians, or researchers with a variety of specific cell types needed for medical therapies, biotechnology applications and research experiments. Their work has significantly improved the derivation of stem cells from skill cells, which could not only enable cell replacement therapies from a patient's own cells, but also provides a greater scope of opportunities for in vitro disease modeling and drug screening. The ability to direct stem cell differentiation and to create "patient-specific" stem cells together greatly facilitates the important work in personalized regenerative medicine and drug discovery.

The group's present revolution in the understanding, control, and exploitation of stem cells represents not only a theoretical advance in stem cell biology but it has opened new opportunities for other researchers and Singapore. These works are published in prestigious international journals and have received international recognition in the stem cell community. The work has placed Singapore permanently on the global map for stem cell research. In addition, their discoveries in basic biology and translational applications of ES cells and reprogrammed stem cells have attracted interests from research groups in both academia and industry from across North America, Europe and Asia. The team has also been active in training the next generation of stem cell scientists in Singapore.

For their outstanding contributions in the stem cell research arena, the GIS team comprising Drs LIM Bing, Lawrence STANTON, NG Huck Hui and Paul ROBSON was awarded the 2011 President's Science Award at the President's Science & Technology Awards 2011, held on 8 November 2011 at the Marina Bay Sands.