At a media briefing held on 14 December, Duke-NUS unveiled the research strategy of its newest centre—the GK Goh Centre for Neuroscience, which will help to accelerate work that aims to investigate the mechanisms behind ageing in the human brain as well as those underpinning degenerative disorders, such as culturing norepinephrine neurons and transplanting stem cell-derived neurons into stroke-affected brains.
The Centre was established earlier this year with a $5 million gift by the GK Goh family in honour of Mr GK Goh, Founder and Executive Chairman of GK Goh Holdings.
"I absolutely want to express our gratitude to the GK Goh family, for recognising and investing in this programme," said Duke-NUS Dean Professor Thomas Coffman as he addressed the reporters from local media.
Led by renowned neuroscientist Professor Zhang Suchun, the new Centre brings MD-PhD and PhD students together with researchers, exemplifying Duke-NUS' goal of assembling world-class scientists from Singapore and beyond "to do the kind of medical research that can really impact patients' lives and transform medicine", said Prof Coffman.
Work under the new Centre will exploit a novel way of growing neurons from stem cells and protecting them so that they survive transplantation into a living brain—a method developed by Prof Zhang. To illustrate how this was done, a short animation was played, which not only gave participants an overview of the intricate functions of the brain, but also that of certain neurons that the team was able to grow.
The Centre will also focus on developing innovative therapeutics to tackle neurodegeneration among its other objectives, stressed Prof Zhang, which include nurturing future generations of neuroscientists who will continue to advance the Centre's mission.
Elaborating on the School's vision for the Centre, Professor Patrick Tan, Senior Vice-Dean for Research at Duke-NUS concluded: "We're here to improve the life of Singaporeans. [The Centre] is very special and allows a type of research that was not done before and the gift [from the GK Goh family] was catalytic in allowing this to happen and allowing the School and Singapore to punch above its weight.
"Commenting on the Centre's first discoveries, Mr GK Goh, who is also Chairman Emeritus of the international executive board of Temasek Foundation International and a member of the board of Temasek Foundation said in a press release issued that day: "I am delighted that our scientists have already made impactful findings that will go a long way to help patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases in Singapore. I am confident that this Centre will continue to enable Duke-NUS to deliver innovative bedside interventions that will not only improve the quality of life for the individual but also support our nation's efforts on healthier ageing."