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James Liao appointed to serve as Academia Sinica president

2016/06/03 20:53:08

James Liao

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has appointed James Liao (廖俊智), a professor at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), to head Academia Sinica, a presidential spokesman said Friday.

Tsai made the appointment earlier in the day, said spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺), who noted that Liao will be the 11th president of Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top academic research institution.

Liao won the most votes in an election to decide a shortlist of candidates for the post held earlier this year. The president has always appointed the candidate who received the most votes from among Academia Sinica members to lead the institution, Huang said.

Liao graduated from National Taiwan University and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States.

Specializing in metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and systems biology, he serves as chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA.

Liao was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2013, to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2015, and to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in 2016 in the United States, according to the Presidential Office.

The Academia Sinica post has been vacant since the institution's previous head Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) was forced to resign in late March over controversy involving his relationship with biotech company OBI Pharma Inc. (浩鼎).

Wong's second five-year term was due to expire in October.

Since Wong's daughter was identified as a shareholder of OBI Pharma in March, Wong has been embroiled in insider trading and breach of faith allegations, and has been listed by prosecutors as a potential defendant, meaning that he is being formally investigated.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Elizabeth Hsu)