Singapore’s focused transformation into a scientific powerhouse in the biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering will stage a presence this week in Boston at the annual meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) and the Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology.
At the AAAS conference, Singapore scientists will speak at a Friday morning, Feb. 15th symposium on the continuum of cancer research, from the laboratory through clinical and translational research studies with patients.
That afternoon at the Fulbright Academy conference, an expert on Singapore’s educational system will speak about the school programs that contribute to Singapore pupils’ top ranking internationally in science and math.
The Asian city-state’s scientific and educational initiatives under A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), established in 2000, will also be showcased at the AAAS meeting. It will highlight Singapore’s public sector research program, which spans 14 research institutes and several scientific consortia and extramural research with the country’s universities, hospital research centres and other local and international partners.
“By participating in the AAAS and the Fulbright Academy annual meetings, we want to strengthen our networks with the international research community to bring about breakthroughs to benefit society. At the same time, this is an excellent opportunity for Singapore to share our experiences in pioneering new directions in scientific education and R&D,” said A*STAR Chairman Lim Chuan Poh, who will speak at the Fulbright meeting.
To strengthen Singapore’s capabilities in the sciences, A*STAR has turned for advice to many of the world’s leaders of science including Nobel laureate and AAAS President David Baltimore. In addition, many other scientists have been recruited to Singapore, full or part-time, to establish new research programs or expand existing ones.
Two such transplanted scientists -- Edison Liu, M.D., and Nancy Jenkins, Ph.D. – will join Singapore’s internationally respected oncologist and clinical researcher, John Wong, M.D., as speakers in the Friday morning AAAS symposium. They are among the 3,200 scientists from 50 countries who work in A*STAR research institutes.
During the past seven years, A*STAR has built from scratch a biomedical research hub – called Biopolis – to headquarter the new and expanded research programs in genomics, molecular and cell biology, bioengineering and nanotechnology, medical biology, and clinical and translational research.
A*STAR’s complementary research programs in infocomm and media, high performance computing, manufacturing, microelectronics, data storage, and chemical and materials science will soon be moving into Fusionopolis, a physical sciences and engineering research hub, when it opens in October 2008.
While the new laboratories at Biopolis and Fusionopolis were designed for 21st century science, Mr. Lim stressed, “More important than the physical infrastructure is talented scientists who are passionate about good science and impactful research, and we have a pool of some of the best international leaders of science who share this passion.”
He also pointed out that a dynamic culture of collaboration characterizes A*STAR’s research, between public sector and corporate R&D labs as well as across scientific disciplines.
“Such private-public partnerships and multi-disciplinary research among physical sciences and biomedical sciences accelerate the development of ideas from ‘lab’ to ‘life,’” he explained.
“The various research supported by A*STAR includes both investigator-initiated studies as well as directed research built around strategic thematic areas that impact the health, lifestyles or economy of Singaporeans and the available or potential research strengths that we have in those areas,” said Mr. Lim.
To spur talented Singaporean students’ interest for careers in science, A*STAR supports a science education program that encompasses public schools as well as college and university degree studies. Before he became A*STAR Chairman last year, Mr. Lim was Permanent Secretary in the Singapore Ministry of Education.
In his Fulbright Academy lecture, Mr. Lim will review the educational system that has resulted in Singapore fourth and eighth grade students’ ranking #1 in science and math. He also will describe the A*STAR scholarship programs that today support the Ph.D. degree educations of over 700 young Singaporeans. “Many of these students, we hope, will be the future leaders of science and technology in Singapore,” he noted.
Said Mr. Eric Howard, Executive Director of the Fulbright Academy of Science & Technology, "A*STAR is a valuable strategic partner to us in reaching out to the international scientific community. We are a network of Fulbright scholars and alumni, so our ideals are closely aligned in our desire to promote advancement through dialogues in science and technology. Mr Lim's talk at the Academy's Annual Conference will address many relevant issues in the areas of science and math education and we are confident that our delegates will greatly benefit from the session.”
The Fulbright Academy is partnering A*STAR to launch its inaugural Asian conference in October focusing on the future of cities. A growing portion of humanity is moving to cities, so this conference will examine the efforts of Singapore and other cities to build safe, conducive and productive urban areas.
At the meeting, Fulbright scholars, key leaders and innovative researchers from around the world will exchange ideas on scientific and technological solutions for sustainable cities of the future.
At this year’s AAAS conference, in support of nurturing young aspiring talent, A*STAR will sponsor the competition that recognizes college and university students who present at the meeting the best poster displays about research.
During the meeting, A*STAR will also announce its third call for the A*STAR Investigatorship programme which offers promising young postdocs from around the world to do independent research at A*STAR, as well as its new visiting “science writer-in-residence” program that will bring experienced science journalists to the island-state to meet with journalists as well as industry leaders, scientists and students.
About Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
A*STAR is Singapore's lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. A*STAR actively nurtures public sector research and development in Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, with a particular focus on fields essential to Singapore's manufacturing industry and new growth industries. It oversees 14 research institutes and supports extramural research with the universities, hospital research centres and other local and international partners. At the heart of this knowledge intensive work is human capital. Top local and international scientific talent drive knowledge creation at A*STAR research institutes. The Agency also sends scholars for undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral training in the best universities, a reflection of the high priority A*STAR places on nurturing the next generation of scientific talent.www.a-star.edu.sg
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