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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
5-Dec-2013

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Contact: Nicole Lim
lim.nicole.natalie@singhealth.com.sg
659-459-4492
SingHealth

Singapore joins global translational medicine network as Asia-Pacific hub

Network boosts healthcare research, closing the gap between scientific discovery, commercialisation and patient care

SingHealth and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, which form Singapore's largest academic healthcare cluster, are joining a new global research network to accelerate the discovery of treatments and cures. They will be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine today.

As part of the Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine, SingHealth and Duke-NUS join an elite group of academic medical institutes from Europe and North America.

Clinician scientists and researchers from the two institutions will gain access to ideas, knowledge, resources and technologies from across the network, driving globally impactful research.

Joining the network will strengthen their capabilities in translational research, so that promising scientific discoveries can be developed into diagnostic tools, treatments and cures for patients.

"Translational Medicine is like a bridge which joins patients to research. It is a two-way bridge, as unmet medical needs inspire research, and research provides new solutions to fight disease. There are very few people worldwide who know how to build this bridge. There is no formal training in this area and no efficient network to catalyse creativity on an international scale. Eureka aims to address these problems innovatively and comprehensively," said Professor Salvatore Albani, President, Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine.

"SingHealth and Duke-NUS will add to the network with their strengths in biomedical research, and as the network's Asia-Pacific hub, with their insights into diseases common in Asia," added Prof Albani.

"This collaboration has come at the right time as SingHealth and Duke-NUS build up our translational and clinical research capabilities, in tandem with the current phase of Singapore's biomedical sciences initiative." said Professor Soo Khee Chee, Deputy Group CEO, Research & Education, SingHealth.

"Working with a powerhouse like Eureka and its contributing institutes will spur us on to better translate research into practical solutions that benefit patients," added Prof Soo, who is also Senior Vice Dean of Clinical, Academic and Faculty Affairs, Duke-NUS.

Clinician scientists and researchers from the network will also be offered places on the Eureka Institute's translational medicine certification programme. The programme, which offers the only training of its kind on an international level, equips professionals with skills necessary to achieve meaningful clinical breakthroughs.

"Eureka's emphasis on developing skills to nurture innovative teams that embrace critical thinking and problem solving as key elements in the quest to contribute to the improvement of human health resonates with the approaches of Duke-NUS. People are our greatest asset, and developing this asset is essential to improving the practice of medicine," said Professor Patrick Casey, Senior Vice Dean of Research, Duke-NUS.

"As a cancer scientist, I can make great discoveries on how cancer cells work and how we can target them. But without an understanding of what patients, funding agencies, legislators and pharmaceutical companies need, those discoveries could not be translated to effective care for patients. The programme has broadened my views on these perspectives, which would certainly have an impact on the way we approach our research programmes" said Professor Kanaga Sabapathy, Head, Division of Cellular & Molecular Research, National Cancer Centre Singapore, who attended Eureka's International Certificate Programme earlier this year.

"It was also a great way to meet colleagues with similar mind-sets from around the world, which has also led to discussions to start collaborative work with teams from North America and Europe," he added.

The Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine plans to develop a Master's programme in translational medicine over the next five years. As network members, SingHealth and Duke-NUS will be able to help shape the course to ensure that it addresses the skill gaps identified in Asia.

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