Dr Khor Chiea Chuen’s mission as a senior principal investigator of Human Genetics at A*Star’s Genome Institute of Singapore is to research genetic markers for common diseases such as glaucoma. “Often, the scientific discoveries are unexpected and do not conform to our current knowledge of biology and medicine,” says Khor, who is a qualified medical doctor and seeks to connect his research with clinical applications.

He was the first Singaporean to clinch the prestigious EMBO Young Investigator Programme Award that recognises researchers in Europe and beyond, and co-led a study that revealed eight genes strongly associated with primary angle-closure glaucoma. The new findings point to potential new practices to screen and treat glaucoma, which doesn’t necessarily lead to blindness if detected and treated early.

While he has enjoyed success at work, Khor reveals that failures are commonplace. “Setbacks indicate that our current thinking and understanding may be deviating from the true answer. When it happens, a lot of reflection occurs and we try again the next day, the day after next, the week after next.” 

And when it comes to living a happy and healthy life, Khor’s philosophy is to “genuinely love what you do, exercise vigorously and treasure all your relationships”.