UBD Signs Agreement to Help Bolster Research

Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) alumnus Kelvin Pong Ming Onn marked a key milestone, leading by example and creating a pathway for alumni philanthropists to give back to the university.

An agreement with UBD was reached to contribute funding for the development, teaching and research of UBD's Botanical Research Centre (UBDBRC). At the moment, UBD has established research groups in several areas including Biodiversity, Energy Studies, Islamic Studies, Herbal, Catalyst, Sensor Technology, Tourism, International and Comparative Education (ICE), Precision Genomic Medicine (PGM), Bioinspiration, Optoelectronic Device, and Biosensors, Halal Science and Detection Research. To date, UBD has filed 60 patents and some of which have resulted in commercialisation, such as the licensing of a patent on anti-bacterial and anti-fungal photo-catalytic coating to Smart Coating Technologies (B) Sdn Bhd, and with Pahaytc Sdn Bhd on the characterisation of the local Aquilaria or "Agarwood'.

The agreement was signed by Kelvin Pong Ming Onn, a Chartered Financial Consultant who also graduated from UBD with a Master in Business Administration, and Datin Dr Dayang Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina binti Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz, Vice-Chancellor of UBD at Simpur Herbal Café, located at UBD's campus.

For his initiative in giving back to the university, a garden at UBDBRC has been named "The Pong Endangered Species Garden" where research on endangered species is conducted.

Since its establishment, UBDBRC has conducted research activities on endangered and rare species in Brunei. In the last 3 years, five of the six most endangered tree species, from the family Dipterocarpaceae, have been collected from the wild and secured in the garden. This project, in collaboration with four other botanical gardens in Borneo, have secured the protection of the 15 rarest species of dipterocarps in Borneo. UBDBRC aims to preserve individuals and genetic diversity for future restoration project in Brunei. UBDBRC is also a member of the Botanical Garden Conservation International (BGCI), whose members collaborate in data basing and protect rare species in order to preserve genetic diversity and conduct education activity and awareness campaign on endangered species. The current collection at UBDBRC also include traditional edible species plants with medicinal properties.

One of the research studies currently done is on ginger, specifically on the investigation of anti-cancer activity of Black Ginger (Kaemperia piriform). Previous pharmacological studies have shown that the rhizomes of black ginger have been used as remedies for inflammation, gout, obesity, allergies, gastric ulcer, osteoarthritis, abscesses, colic disorder and diarrhoea. This investigation will assess the effects of black ginger extracts on cell proliferation, migration cell viability, apoptosis and cell morphology.

Recently, UBD alumni contributed to the UBD Endowment Fund to help students facing challenges in online education during the early stages of Brunei Darussalam's COVID-19 response.

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