The George Town Institute of Open and Advanced Studies (GIOAS) is an independent, nonprofit institute within the Wawasan Open University (WOU), that seeks to explore ideas and complexity within open societies. As a UNESCO World Heritage City, George Town is well placed to attract thinkers, teachers, students and doers in the world of science, social science, business, government and civil society to come together to deliberate ideas that can advance openness, diversity and complexity thinking in the pursuit of peace, human prosperity, happiness and well-being.  

The idea of Open studies within Open Societies recognizes the fact that progress is open-ended and that there are no limits to knowledge, only the willingness to pursue knowledge in the furtherance of society and nature. Openness means that the Institute is open to all ideas from all societies, East or West, and is free from religious denominations and affiliations.   

International Advisory Board (IAB) Members

The Institute has put together a formidable Advisory Board comprising highly respected academicians and thought leaders from across the globe. All of them are leaders in their own field, with formidable deep experience in complex organisations and dealing with problems of globalisation, innovation and development.

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng

Andrew Sheng is a former central banker and financial regulator in Asia and a commentator on global finance. He is Pro-Chancellor of Bristol University and Distinguished Fellow, Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong, as well as Chairman, George Town Institute of Open and Advanced Studies, Wawasan Open University, Malaysia.

Andrew is the Chief Adviser to the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, a member of the international advisory council of the China Investment Corporation, the China Development Bank, and China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Andrew served as Chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong from 1998 to 2005, having previously been a central banker with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Bank Negara Malaysia. He also worked with the World Bank from 1989 to 1993. From 2003 to 2005, he chaired the Technical Committee of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). He was a Board Member of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia.

He has a First Class Honours in Economics from Bristol University, and Honorary Doctorates from University of Bristol and University of Malaya.  He is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing and Faculty of Economics, University of Malaya. 

He is the author of “From Asian to Global Financial Crisis: An Asian Regulator’s View of Unfettered Finance in the 1990s and 2000s” (2009), and co-editor (with Ng Chow Soon) of the book, “Bringing Shadow Banking into the Light: Opportunity for Financial Reform in China” (2015). He writes regularly on international finance and monetary economics, financial regulation and global governance for Project Syndicate, AsiaNewsNet and leading economic magazines and newspapers in China and Asia. In April 2013, Andrew was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He also appeared in the Oscar-winning film “Inside Job” in 2011.

Jan Wouter Vasbinder

Jan Wouter Vasbinder is the director of Para Limes @ EU. Prior to that, he was the director of the Complexity Programme aimed at developing a Complexity Institute at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. The Complexity Programme was renamed Para Limes in April 2014.  

Jan studied physics at the Technical University of Delft (1972) and worked in the nuclear industry in Israël and the Netherlands. In 1985, he headed an organisation responsible for developing large and long-term cooperative industry university research programmes. Subsequently, he became a member of the management team of the Dutch organisation responsible for executing government innovation policies. In 1995, he co-founded Prisma & Partners, a firm dedicated to finding, strengthening, and mobilising the innovative capacity of companies, consortia (e.g. of corporations and universities), government (related) organisations and regions. He invested much time in helping organisations to develop their strategies for the future. In 2003, he initiated Institute Para Limes in Europe. 

The joy in his work comes from exploring new, potentially powerful, combinations of knowledge, arts, philosophy and practice and from developing projects and programmes to make such combinations useful. His motto is: “the value of knowledge is in its use”.

Dr Stephen Oppenheimer

Dr Stephen is a British paediatrician, geneticist, and author. Oppenheimer is a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford (Animal Physiology Hons: 1968; Medicine: BM BCh 1971), and trained in medicine at Oxford University (1965-1971) and at the Royal London Hospital (RLH 1968-1972) pre-registration House Jobs (1971-2). He did his residency training at the RLH and Oxford 1973-6, passing Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP UK) in 1975, Diploma of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (DTM & H, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) in 1978, and receiving Royal College of Physicians Paediatric Specialist Accreditation in 1984. He was elected Fellow and Examiner for the Royal College of Physicians UK (1991).

Academic & Research postings:

1979-1987: Grant-funded as:

1) Clinical Research Fellow, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (including research secondment to PNGIMR New Guinea 1979-83 for DM Thesis fieldwork) and then;

2) Senior Lecturer at the Dept of Paediatrics, Oxford University (including research secondment to set up the Wellcome Trust research centre in Kenya 1984-86). From 1987-1990: Associate Professor in Paediatrics at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Malaysia. From 1990-1994, Chairman and Chief of Clinical Service in the Department of Paediatrics of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

Other tropical clinical paediatrics postings: Worked as a clinical paediatrician, in mission hospitals in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuching 1972-3; and in Nepal for 6 months in 1975. Posted for 2 years to Papua New Guinea 1976-8, as government provincial paediatrician. Worked as government consultant paediatrician in Brunei from 1994 to 1997.

Nutritional, clinical and genetics research: Throughout his academic postings, Oppenheimer carried out clinical work, taught students and published clinical medical research in the areas of nutrition, infectious disease (especially malaria), and genetics. Between 1976-2002, he published 81 medical research papers (3643 citations to date in this field). The 3 key results of his clinical research trial on iron supplementation, conducted from 1979-83 in New Guinea, showed:

1) A deleterious interaction between iron supplementation and malaria and other infectious disease, in a malarious area. This clear result led to a profound change in WHO & UNICEF iron supplementation policy in the tropics.

2) In 1984, he became the first clinical researcher to publish direct evidence of anti-malarial protection conferred by the widespread inherited red cell disorder – Alpha+ Thalassaemia. He continued on this genetic-protection trail in Hong Kong with a doctoral student and other colleagues, using flow cytometry and electron microscopy, showing that the mechanism of this genetic protection was maturation arrest of the malaria parasite in thalassaemic red cells.

3) His unique findings in the varied evolution and geography of inherited variants of such genetic disorders in New Guinea and Oceania, indicated a powerful approach to tracing ancient migrations.

This direct genetic-tracking approach serendipitously led to a complete change in his research focus and direction, starting in 1995, when he signed a publisher’s (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) contract to write the first of his 3 multidisciplinary books on prehistoric human migrations.    

Author and researcher on prehistoric migrations: Oppenheimer returned to Oxford in the UK for his children’s schooling in 1997, as well as to meet a deadline for his first book, with reference library access. He has since published 3 bestseller books: Eden in the East: the Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia (1998); Out of Eden: the Peopling of the World (The Real Eve in the USA) (2003); and The Origins of the British: a genetic detective story (2006) as well as 82 peer-reviewed publications (35 in the last 10 years) on ancient human migrations and genetic variation (5286 citations to date in this field). Oppenheimer has delivered 125 invited public lectures since 1998, on his research in genes and migration as well as on his expert medical field: Iron. Oppenheimer has also been invited as consultant/talking head for five documentary films (The Real Eve Discovery Channel, 2002; Out of Eden Channel 4, 2003; The Incredible Human Journey BBC, 2009; Norwegian Roots NRK 2011; Ice Bridge 2018), and has also collaborated online with the Bradshaw Foundation website, describing and explaining the genetic trail in his book, Out of Eden.

Dr Shiu Man Fai

Dr Shiu recently stepped down as Consultant Cardiologist at Royal Free Hospital, London.  He did his undergraduate and professional training in Guy’s Hospital. In the early 1980s, he was one of the handful of cardiologists who foresaw the potentials of coronary artery angioplasty and stenting, and led the group in setting up the British Cardiovascular Interventional Society.

Ten years later, he ventured into medical devices innovations and successfully launched a thrombus extraction system (the X-Sizer) that dealt with arteries overloaded with fresh clot. He pushed the boundaries for non-invasive treatment for mitral valve disease and immediate coronary angiogram and stenting for acute heart attacks, which are all taken for granted now.

He was a strong advocate for the National Standards for Cardiac and Stroke services and played an active role in the National Service Framework in the West Midlands and nationally in the UK. He went into hospital management, reaching the post of Head of Division for Specialised Services (Cardiac/Renal/Radiology and Oncology) at the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire.

Douglass Carmichael

Doug Carmichael is a physicist, humanist, psychoanalyst, entrepreneur, and economic advisor to the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET). Doug holds degrees in physics and humanities from CalTech, and a PhD in psychology from University of California, Berkeley. Doug was a Professor at University of California at Santa Cruz, then lived in Washington DC for many years continuing private practice, strategic consulting with many organisations including Hewlett-Packard, World Bank, Bell laboratories, White House and the State Department. Doug also ran the network for Al Gore’s Reinventing government.

For the last ten years, he has focused on the broad social science issues relevant to rethinking humanity’s relationship to nature. Doug lives on the Russian River and spends two days a week in Palo Alto leading two seminars on strategic conversations. He started the Stanford Strategy Studio and is most interested in the relationship between the humanities and economics.  Doug is also a member of the American Anthropology Association.

Ms Wang Yuan

Ms Wang Yuan was former Chief Economist of China Development Bank, Beijing, the largest development bank in the world. She was Chief Adviser, Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong and has previously worked at the Ministry of Finance, People’s Bank of China and the World Bank, Washington, DC. She has participated in WTO negotiations for China and was also responsible for Bank for International Settlement work in China. Prior to that, she lectured at the Central University of Finance and Economics as Associate Professor. She was an independent non-executive director of the Moscow Stock Exchange and China Merchant Securities. She is currently independent non-executive director of Standard Chartered Bank, China.

At the China Development Bank, Ms Wang led the strategic development of international cooperation and bond issuance, developed the human resource training for not only CDB staff, but those of development institutions in Central Asia.  As Chief Economist, she was primary adviser to the Chairman on policy research, promoting sustainable and inclusive development, and negotiations on CDB programmes internationally. She was primarily responsible for the CDB International advisory council, which included luminaries such as Dr Henry Kissinger, Dr Paul Volcker, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, and Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

Ms Wang was educated at Shanxi University, China, with Masters from University of Bradford and China Europe International Business School, Shanghai.  She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Economics from University of Bradford in 2012.

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