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First grant by AXA Research Fund in Asia awarded to NUS

03 December 2010

GRANT PRESENTATION CEREMONY: (From left) NUS Department of Psychology's Prof Richard Ebstein, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) Prof Barry Halliwell, Head of the AXA Research Fund Mrs Anne-Juliette Hermant, NUS Department of Economics' Prof Chew Soo Hong and CEO of AXA Life Singapore Mr Glenn Williams at the AXA University Asia Pacific Campus on 2 December 2010

For their study on "Biology of Decision Making Under Risk", NUS researchers Prof Richard P. Ebstein of the Department of Psychology and Prof Chew Soo Hong of the Department of Economics were awarded the first grant offered by the AXA Research Fund in Asia.

The AXA Research Fund, a major and innovative initiative of scientific philanthropy supported by the worldwide insurance group AXA, is awarding 517,000 Euros (S$904, 079) over a period of three years, to NUS for the Study. This marks the first time the Fund has awarded a grant to a university in Asia.

NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) Prof Barry Halliwell said: "We are pleased to receive this esteemed gift from the AXA Research Fund which will support the work of NUS researchers to identify and explain the biological underpinnings of risk-taking in human choice and behaviour. The gift is recognition of NUS as a leading global university centred in Asia, and the University's relentless drive to contribute to holistic understanding of critical issues for Asia and the rest of the world."

"We are convinced that basic research is essential for the development of knowledge in this area and thus contributes to building stronger and safer societies. AXA teams in Singapore share with me the pride of this extension of the AXA Research Fund outside of Europe. I believe it is a very strong sign of our long term commitment to the region and its strategic importance for the Group," said CEO of AXA Japan-Asia-Pacific Region and Member of the AXA Group Executive Committee Mr John R. Dacey.

Over a period of three years, the two researchers will look into identifying the genes and environmental influences that can be linked to an individual's propensity to take risks. They will use methodologies from behavioural and experimental economics, psychology and the biological sciences. It is hoped that the Study will offer additional insights into the "nature versus nurture" debate about what influences an individual's attitude towards financial risk.

In addition to support from the AXA Research Fund, a S$1.2million funding from the Singapore Ministry of Education will be used for the study of genetics of social decision making. The AXA Research Fund, which aims to encourage scientific research that would contribute to understanding and preventing environmental, life, and socio-economic risks, has supported 192 research projects implemented in 17 countries by researchers of 39 nationalities.