In the future, patients undergoing testing for head and neck cancers may only need to do a saliva test in the doctor's office, instead going through a biopsy procedure.   The simplicity of testing means that doctors will be able to detect and treat cancers earlier, and monitor the progress of treatment more easily.

Research to find the biomarker and develop such diagnostic tool is one of the joint projects that National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Karolinska Institutet (KI) agreed to collaborate on at their first tripartite joint symposium in Sweden, 16-17 October 2017. 

Other potential research collaborations include developing anti-inflammatory biologics to treat severe periodontal diseases and improve the population's oral health, and investigating the long term outcomes of corrective jaw surgeries involving virtual surgical planning in patients with dentofacial deformities.

Associate Professor Goh Bee Tin, Deputy Director (Research and Education), NDCS, said, "Collaborations with NTU and KI, some of the best universities globally, provide greater synergies in research and innovation.   For example, NTU's strengths in engineering and medical technology complement NDCS' expertise in oral health to develop new dental and oral health solutions for our patients.

"KI's keen interest in global health and strong profile in innovation, along with the medical expertise of SingHealth and NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, means great opportunities for collaboration in both oral health and general health."

In the area of education, the institutions are looking at new academic exchanges and developing new dentistry education programmes based on team-based learning, evidence-based teaching, and a research-intensive environment.

NDCS has had years of partnership in research and education with both NTU and KI, which was formalised by inking a memorandum of understanding in 2016.