SHUTING HU: WHAT WINNING THE HENRY MASO AWARD HAS DONE FOR ME
Shuting Hu from Hong Kong won the IFSCC’s Henry Maso Award in 2013 for her paper about applied research of skincare ingredients, published in the IFSCC Magazine and presented at the 2013 IFSCC Conference in Brazil. Her prize was a trip to the 2014 Congress in Paris, courtesy of the IFSCC. Winning the prize has moved Shuting’s focus from academic research to more commercial sharing of her advances in cosmetic science. “Winning the award has completely changed my career, from academia to industry and from a scientist to an entrepreneur,” says Shuting.”I would encourage other young cosmetic scientists to compete for the IFSCC’s awards. They could create invaluable opportunities for their careers.” Here Shuting shares here experience.
IFSCC: What are your particular areas of interest in cosmetic science?
SHUTING: I’m interested in novel skincare ingredients from natural sources, particularly in the application of skin whitening and DNA repair by polyphenols.
IFSCC: Why did you choose the IFSCC as the place to publish your paper?
SHUTING: My fellow members from the Hong Kong SCC encouraged me to submit my research findings to the IFSCC. We believed the IFSCC was the perfect avenue to publish my paper, Activity and mechanism of natural resorcinol type phenolics from the twigs of Cudrina trieuspidata as skin whitening agents.
IFSCC: How has winning the Henry Maso Award affected you and your career?
SHUTING: I had considered a career in academia in my early PhD years. I was fortunate enough to win the Henry Maso Award and had the privilege to present as a keynote podium speaker at the IFSCC Conference in Brazil. My presentation attracted interest from large cosmetic companies looking to develop skincare ingredients from my findings and this made me realise that my research was of great commercial value. However, subsequent collaborations with these interested parties has made little progress beyond being validated. There were no signs that my findings were in the process of being commercialised, even after completing my post-doc year in 2015. I want my research transferred into commercial value that can be appreciated by people in their daily lives, not only in publications. I therefore declined an Assistant Professor role at a university and decided to start my own company, SkinData, with the help and encouragement of my PhD supervisor Professor Mingfu Wang.
IFSCC: How do you see your future career progressing and do you think winning the award has expanded your options?
SHUTING: Winning the award has completely changed my career, from academia to industry and from a scientist to an entrepreneur. It has been a challenging move for me, much more so than I expected. The knowledge and skill sets required differ vastly from my experiences in academia. With recognition from the IFSCC, I am confident in our work developing products for skin pigmentation, photoageing and inflammation, using naturally-sourced, pharmaceutical grade active compounds that are put through rigorous scientific testing.
Winning the award represents recognition from the industry’s top research organisation. It is a significant boost to my personal profile in the industry and has helped my start-up tremendously by bringing business connections and opportunities.
IFSCC: Who has been the most influential individual in your career?
SHUTING: I cannot imagine myself winning an IFSCC award without Professor Mingfu Wang, my PhD advisor from the University of Hong Kong and an HKSCC committee member. He supported me in competing for the award and participating in the conference. Later, it was also him who encouraged me to commercialise my research and start SkinData. He is helping the company, on an ongoing basis, in key areas including technology licensing and gaining financial support through government funding.
IFSCC: How important do you consider the role of the IFSCC in the cosmetics industry?
SHUTING: The IFSCC plays an important role in the technological upgrade of the cosmetic industry. It recognises and rewards R&D excellence in the industry, creating positive incentives for enterprises to allocate resources for research and innovation, which in turn accelerates technological advances and breakthroughs that ultimately benefit consumers and society in general.
IFSCC: How well do you think the IFSCC and its role are understood in the industry and how well do you think the IFSCC serves its members?
SHUTING: There is no doubt that the IFSCC is successful in advancing cosmetic science through encouraging research and innovation. It also elevates professional education and increases collaborations among its Society members worldwide. Membership benefits including access to latest information, databases and participating in major events, which are all important functions in members’ work.
While we live in a great new era for young tech entrepreneurs, it is evident that start-ups are at a severe disadvantage in terms of financial resources and business connections in comparison with major established enterprises. This is particularly true for the cosmetics industry. Ongoing innovation and diversity is required to drive sustainable growth for any industry. Start-ups bring a wealth of new ideas and highly specialised new technologies and are essential to a vibrant industry. I believe the IFSCC is perfectly positioned to provide start-ups with the resources and assistance that are vital to their survival and development. It would be great if the IFSCC could provide more help for the cosmetic industry’s technology start-ups, perhaps setting up exclusive special events and/or programmes with awards and funding.
IFSCC: What would you say to others wondering where to publish their research?
SHUTING: I would recommend researchers in applied research of cosmetic science and natural products as well as skin biology and dermatology to publish their research with the IFSCC. Unlike SCI journals for basic research, the IFSCC Magazine and Conferences/Congresses are the perfect avenue to publish research with commercialisation potential. I would encourage other young cosmetic scientists to compete for the IFSCC’s awards. They could create invaluable opportunities for their careers.
IFSCC: Will you be at the IFSCC Conference in Seoul this year?
SHUTING: Absolutely! Our team will be bringing our latest advances to the stages of the IFSCC Conference. Our paper, Phenolic compound from the wood extract of Artocarpus Heterophyllus (jackfruit) as novel skin lightening agent with dual action mechanisms: inhibition of melanin synthesis and induction of melanosome autophagy, has been selected as a podium presentation for the Conference. I hope the Henry Maso Award is just the beginning of our journey with the IFSCC. We invite you all to attend our presentation and share your ideas and opinions with us.
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