Chairman of NMRC and former Dean of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, and a distinguished scientist in his own right, Professor Ranga Krishnan continues to play a leading role in charting Singapore’s clinical research trajectory. Prof Krishnan talks about our prospects and the challenges of keeping our aims high.

Singapore initiated the current expansion drive of its biomedical sciences sector in the year 2000. Fifteen years on, it is timely to look back at what has been achieved, as well as ahead to what challenges or changes will be required to foster further progress.
The intent has always been to transform Singapore into a life science hub in the region. While we have come some way towards doing so for Southeast Asia; elsewhere in Asia, much larger countries and economies such as China and Korea have progressed significantly in this area. The biomedical sciences capabilities of those countries have experienced very rapid growth, because the investments and the size of their population are much larger.
The question therefore is what should Singapore’s biomedical sciences sector aspire to be in a landscape that is continuously evolving at a rapid pace? On the clinical research side, Singapore has enough infrastructure and the capabilities to compete with other research hubs internationally, and is well-positioned to facilitate the development and implementation of new health innovations.

With seven years as Duke-NUS Dean under his illustrious belt, Professor Ranga Krishnan has passed the mantle over to Professor Thomas Coffman. (Credit: Duke-NUS)

There is still a hill to climb. But the good news is we have come a long way from our humble beginnings to this point.

In 2015, our clinical research is beginning to have an impact in the market, either in terms of health outcomes, or economically. More funding will be required to bring health innovations to market. Singapore continues to attract industry and can potentially be a hub that is able to influence the development and planning of clinical trials in the Southeast Asia region.
A lot of the supporting infrastructure needed is already in place and we are very strong in many therapeutic areas, especially eye care, oncology and cardiology. The push in the biomedical sector is a long-term strategic process and Singapore is examining new ways to integrate and further enhance its capabilities. Part of this will involve ramping up current initiatives to train more physicians to be clinician scientists.

Professor Ranga Krishnan (second from left) shares a light-hearted moment with alumni from the M.D. Class of 2011. (Credit: Duke-NUS)

Source: Reproduced with permission from SCRI. To read more, please visit