Singapore, 20 July 2013 – SingHealth, Singapore’s largest academic healthcare cluster, opens the Academia on SGH Campus today – a new 13-storey twin-tower building that houses the Group’s research and education facilities, as well as Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Pathology Department under one roof.

The opening ceremony was graced by President Tony Tan Keng Yam and witnessed by Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State for Health Amy Khor, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Muhammad Faishal, SingHealth Chairman Peter Seah, SingHealth Group CEO Ivy Ng and SingHealth senior management team.

Strategically located close to leading medical institutions and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School on the SGH Campus, the official opening of Academia not only marks the completion of a cutting-edge facility but the creation of a rich eco-system that changes the way collaborative research, healthcare training and diagnostics are performed for the advancement of medicine.

Professor Ivy Ng, SingHealth’s Group CEO said, “The close proximity of research facilities to the clinical care areas has been shown to significantly improve the output of clinically impactful projects. As healthcare providers, we need to invest continually in such facilities, research and healthcare training that will place us in a stronger position to bring better outcomes and higher standards of care to our patients.”

“The Academia is built with this purpose in mind. In boosting capacity and resources for pathology services, research and medical education, our staff are better equipped to deliver earlier and enhanced diagnoses, pursue new cures and groom a strong pipeline of outstanding healthcare professionals to deal with the challenges of tomorrow”, Professor Ng added.


Defining Tomorrow’s Medicine through Research

Home to SingHealth’s state-of-the-art research facilities, the Academia’s Discovery Tower houses eight research core platforms, such as the SingHealth Tissue Repository (STR) and the new SingHealth Translational Immunology and Inflammation Centre.

As the largest tissue repository in Singapore, the STR offers core tissue research and bio-banking services to researchers, enabling them to identify new biomarkers, treatment targets and drugs. Its new home in the Academia serves to boost basic, translational and clinical research conducted by SingHealth and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. To-date, the STR is involved in 31 local and international research projects which focus on finding cures for diseases such as cancers and chronic diseases.

The SingHealth Translational Immunology and Inflammation Centre is a new platform that formalises efforts to advance the field of translational immunology and inflammation research led by SingHealth and Duke-NUS. The Centre has identified potential clinical collaborations which include paediatric allergies and immunological disorders, transplantation immunology and stem cell and immunotherapy for cancers and other diseases.

With increased capacity for research, the Academia not only offers researchers with more laboratories to conduct ground-breaking research but interconnected spaces which promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas. The increased capacity also serves to support the growing number of clinician scientists in SingHealth and Duke-NUS. By 2015, both organisations aim to grow the talent pool from the current 50 to 80 clinician scientists, meeting half of the entire nation’s needs.


Creating New Possibilities for Healthcare Training

Designed to transform the way healthcare practitioners learn and train, the Academia’s co-location of wet and dry skills laboratories and conference facilities will create new possibilities for procedural-based and team-based training in simulated environments. With a floor area of 7,500sqm dedicated to healthcare training and education, it is the world's largest and most comprehensive training facility incorporating varied platforms from procedural skills and team-based skills to computer simulation and environment simulation capabilities under one roof. These facilities are also ‘wired’ to provide live streaming, as well as recordings of training sessions to accelerate learning without borders.

For team-based training, the Mini Hospital with a simulated ward, operating theatre, intensive care unit and specialist outpatient clinics will enable medical, nursing and allied health staff to train together and practise new technologies and procedures in a safe and ‘realistic’ setting without having to use actual resources. It will also be the base for a number of education and training institutions to conduct their programmes, including the SGH Division of Surgery, Institute for Medical Simulation and Education and SingHealth Alice Lee Institute of Advanced Nursing.

For surgeons, the Computer Simulation Skills Training Laboratory which is equipped with high-fidelity procedural simulators for key surgical techniques in minimally invasive surgery, endoscopy and endovascular procedures will enable them to learn and enhance their surgical motor skills to minimise medical errors. The 24-hour facility offers access to all staff so that ad-hoc training can take place anytime and at the staff’s own pace. For allied health professionals, the Therapy Skills Training and Teaching laboratories will provide dedicated equipment and resources for advanced clinical skills training for 19 different allied health professions.


Celebrating SGH’s Heritage and Excellence in Pathology

Home to SGH Pathology Department, the Academia’s Diagnostics Tower has brought the Department’s multi-site and spatially tight laboratories under one roof. Established in 1903, the Department has grown to become a distinguished centre of excellence for pathology services in Singapore and from the region.

A national and regional leader in spearheading diagnostic efforts during national crises such as SARS and H1N1, the Department handled close to 12 million laboratory investigations last year, including complex cases from public and private hospitals in Singapore and from the region.

Comprising 10 clinical laboratories and a host of other pathology services and facilities, the move has enabled SGH Pathology to integrate the latest technology into laboratory processes to further enhance test accuracy, reliability and turnaround times. One such technology being incorporated is digital pathology, which allows digitisation of tumours biopsied during surgery into virtual scans that can be remotely analysed in real time by pathologists in SGH campus and other locations.


Other Development Projects in the Pipeline

The Academia marks the first phase of SingHealth’s infrastructure development plan to meet the growing needs of the Singapore population. By 2014, SingHealth will be opening its new National Heart Centre building. By 2018, the Sengkang General Hospital with an attached community hospital will commence operations. This will be followed by the opening of a community hospital on the SGH Campus in 2020.