Research Grant Holders

Dr. Hjh Norhayati Hj Ahmad
Faculty of Science, UBD

“In vivo Study on the Biological Activities of Litsea elliptica Blume”

              Litsea elliptica Blume, locally known as “Pawas”, is a medicinal plant found in Brunei Darussalam that has been customarily consumed and used as a vegetable and herbal medicine to relieve headaches, fevers, itchiness and stomach ulcers. Earlier studies have shown that the plant possesses various bioactive chemical compounds in its leaves and bark. The extracts and essential oil from the plant have also demonstrated antioxidant, antimicrobial and insecticidal activities. Our previous investigations revealed that L. elliptica had enhanced antioxidant capacity in its young leaves whereas the mixed (young and matured) leaves of the plant had potent anti-cancer properties against various cancer cell lines. At present, our efforts are focused on addressing the knowledge gap that remains for the traditional use of L. elliptica as we work towards elucidating the therapeutic effects of the plant against inflammation, fever and pain as well as its potential as a natural remedy for migraine. The outcome from our study would be beneficial as a form of verification for the folkloric usage of L. elliptica and also form a basis for future product development which would, thereafter, contribute towards economic diversification.

15 March 2022 – 14 March 2024
Total Grant = $40,642.20


No. of students working under present grant: 

1 PhD students

4 undergraduate student

Dr Siti Rohaiza Ahmad
PAPRSB Institute of Health Science, UBD

“Myth versus scientific evidence: effectiveness of selected local Bruneian herbs acting as supplement to control diabetes”

  • Brunei Darussalam is rich with various herbs and plants that were believed to have potential medicinal properties.
  • Based from the book “Medicinal Plants of Brunei Darussalam”, some of the local herbs traditionally identified to treat the mentioned disease are Andrographis paniculataStachytarpheta jamaicensis and Tinospora crispa. Whereby, various clinical studies were conducted to proof the efficacy of these herbs on the treatment of diabetes. 
  • The administration of these herbs using different doses for example, result in a significant decrease in blood glucose and improvement in their lipid profiles in induced-diabetic rates and patients with metabolic syndrome  However, these clinical studies have shown inconsistent results; whereby some have shown no effect to significant changes on anti-diabetic effects of these herbs in mostly animal models rather than on humans. 
  • Furthermore, there are no clear in-vivo mechanisms to explain the reasoning behind the anti-diabetic effects of such plants. Whereby, studies presented only have shown improvement in their glucose and lipid profiles hence the suggestive anti-diabetic effects of these plants, using various administrations of dosages and concentrations, as well as methods of extractions of these plants.
  • Therefore, the proposed research study will re-evaluate the efficacy of the mentioned herbs at a local level with the addition of dietary intervention. The comparison will be made on traditional belief against scientific evidence on the efficacy of the mentioned herbs on managing type 2 diabetes mellitus. 
  • Followed by in-depth experimental research on the best methods of extraction of these three local plants, to measuring the toxicity levels of the plants’ extractions. 
  • Followed by, clinical studies on animal test subjects on the administrations of these herbs to establish clear proof on best practice of consumption of these herbs to establishing a clearer understanding of the effect of the herbs on the management of type 2 diabetes in animal models.

1 January 2020 – 31 December 2023
Total Grant = $32,500.00 


No. of students working under present grant: 

1 PhD students

Dr Anne Cunningham
PAPRSB Institute of Health Science, UBD

“In vitro Evaluation of Aryl Hydrocarbon ligands in local plants – potential immunomodulatory effects”

  • The medicinal properties of phytochemicals extracted from plants are well known. Many potent drugs can be isolated from natural sources, eg immunosuppressive drugs and antibiotics (fungal macrolides) and anti-inflammatory drugs (eg asprin originally isolated from willow bark). 
  • Brunei Darussalam has a rich biodiversity, and a potential treasure trove of valuable medicinal drugs. 
  • This research will evaluate ‘local’ plants which are thought to affect the immue system. In particular, we plan to investigate the mechanism of action via an important environmental sensor, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). 
  • The aim of this study is to evalute if extracts from local medicinal plants (eg Dilenia Suffruticosa, Senna Alata and Vitex Pinnata) can bind to AhR, induce nucelar translocation and modify T cell function. Injesting medicinal plants / their extracts could modify immune responses and lead to the development of AhR targeted therapeutics, which may be beneficial for patients with inflammatory diseases (including autoimmunity).

29 July 2019 – 31 July 2022
Total Grant = $22,000.00


No. of students working under present grant: 

1 MSc students

1 undergraduate student

Dyg Noralipah Mohamed
Academy Brunei Studies, UBD

“Documentation and Conservation of Traditional Herbal Knowledge”

  • In the recent years, there has been an increased interest to study the relationship between the people and herbal plants. Such studies are highly relevant in the context of Brunei Darussalam as the plant knowledge and use of herbal pants are evidently inseparable from the cultural, social and spiritual practices of the ethnic groups in the country.
  • Hence, this research project aims to gather local knowledge about the plant species’ ecology, properties and uses. This includes to document the local name, classification of the herbal plants and the transmission of knowledge among the ethnic groups.
  • Drawing upon qualitative approach, this project also aims to investigate the ritual, aesthetic and other aspects of the locals’ relationships with herbal plants which will be gathered through key informant interviews, participatory observation and guided field walks.
  • The study will also consider and report the continuous efforts of the locals to protect and maintain traditional knowledge and cultural heritage.

Approved on 18 March 2019


No. of research assistants working under present grant:

3 PhD students

Dr Pooja Shivanand Breh
Faculty of Science, UBD

“Microbial Induction of Agarwood”

  • The aim of this project is to develop microbial inoculum using locally isolated microorganisms to induce the production of agarwood.
  • Agarwood is a high-value incense-resinous formation in tree trunks and/or branches that can be harvested and commercialized. 
  • Due to the fragrance and regal scent it produces, agarwood essential oil is commonly extracted and used especially in the perfume industry. 
  • In Brunei, agarwood has the potential to unlock business prospects to boost the economy and foster employment. 
  • Currently, most of the agarwood induction procedure in local companies is through imported microbial inoculum apart from physical and chemical induction.
  • Hence, this study will focus on the development of inoculum using regionally isolated fungi and/or bacteria and evaluation of agarwood formation in Aquilaria sp. as a response to this inoculation.
  • The research on the role of soil fungi and bacteria in artificial production is still at its infancy stage. 
  • In this study, different native strains of fungi which are isolated and preserved from various habitats in Brunei will be tested for inoculation into juvenile plants of Aquilaria sp. to obtain potential candidate(s) for agarwood production.
  • It would also be interesting to isolate fungi from local Aquilaria sp. and study their effect of induction.
  • The time span of agarwood resin formation which naturally occurs over decades is expected to shorten to several months following inoculation. 
  • Moreover, the quality and grade of agarwood oil extracted formed from inoculation of different strains of fungi will be studied and compared

Feb 2019 – Feb 2022

Total Grant = B$42,860.00


No. of students working under present grant: 

1 MSc student

3 undergraduate students

Dr Mark Petalcorin

PAPRSB Institute of Health Science, UBD

“Characterizing the Antihypertensive and Antidyslipidemic Effects of Traditional Herbal Medicine on Animal Model Systems for Drug Herbal Research Discovery”

  • The use of herbal medicine is becoming more popular with increasing reliance on natural products such as herbal plant remedies and formulations for treatment of diseases. 
  • This project is aimed at investigating the efficacy, stability, toxicity and mode of action of one of the four traditional herbal medicines (Gynura procumbens, Gymnema sylvestri, Goniothalamus velutinus or Pandanus amaryllifolius) and their bioactive components for medicinal use in potentially alleviating hypertension and dyslipidemia.
  • Insights into the molecular mechanism of how these herbs are able to lower the high blood pressure and modulate the lipid levels will contribute towards the design of new drugs with increased bioactivity for treatment against CVDs and cardio-metabolic disorders. 
  • Phenotype-based screen will be conducted to identify components with antihypertensive and antidyslipidemic potentials through in vivo pharmaco-genetic analysis of their effects on the lifespan, viability, behaviour, proliferation and lipid accumulation using two model organisms, rats and C. elegans, in conjunction with pharmacological in vitro assay involving vasodilation with isolated rat aorta. 
  • Fractionation of extracts by liquid chromatography, followed by evaluation of bioactivities of various components through phenotypic screens for toxicity, lipid levels modulation, cardio-metabolic alterations and health-status will identify druggable lead candidates. Insights into these candidates will provide the basis for future studies to identify further any novel drug target and the design of patentable synthetic and mimetic new molecules with better and more effective bioactivities for alleviating hypertension and dyslipidemia. 

26 Sept 2018 – 2021

Total Grant = $38,500.00


No. of students working under present grant: 

 2 PhD students

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