​Housed in the new NHCS building, the National Heart Research Institute Singapore jump-starts cardiovascular research on SGH Campus.

About one in three deaths in Singapore in 2012 was due to heart disease or stroke. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death and disability in the world.   The new National Heart Research Institute Singapore (NHRIS), a research arm of NHCS, seeks to improve treatment and find cures through patient oriented research for cardiovascular disease.

NHRIS is housed in the new 12-storey NHCS building occupying an area of 4,000m2 dedicated to research.   The institute will collaborate with Duke-NUS to focus on targeted research themes in cardiovascular medicine, including heart function and genetics, metabolic heart disease and cardiac imaging.

NHRIS is equipped with top-notch capabilities such as the Next Generation Sequencing Platform, which enables ultrahigh throughput processing of blood samples into pure DNA and then to purified genes. It is also equipped with new state-of-the-art facilities such as the 3T MRI scanner.   Costing about S$2.5 million, the non-invasive, radiation-free MRI scanner is capable of taking high resolution images of the heart and arteries. 

Heading NHRIS is Professor Stuart Cook, Senior Consultant at the Department of Cardiology and Distinguished Clinician Scientist of NHCS. Said Prof Cook, “The vision for NHRIS is to be a premier regional centre for cardiovascular research to drive excellence in patient care. Our research on the Asian population will help us better understand underlying genetic basis and pattern of disease in Singaporeans – this will change the way we treat cardiovascular disease and create a positive impact on outcomes for our patients.”

With this focus, NHRIS will be doing an in-depth study of the genetic causes of heart disease in Singapore.   The project will integrate advanced cardiac imaging with genomic data to better understand heart diseases in the local population. NHRIS will provide opportunities for collaboration between researchers and clinicians.   To this end, NHRIS aims to integrate research into clinical work to allow junior doctors to be exposed to and challenged by opportunities in research.

“We need the right people to be motivated to take on the long and rigorous training to be clinician scientists.   This is critical for building a core team of clinician scientists to drive innovations in cardiovascular care,” said Prof Cook.

The institute was launched by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress on 4 September 2014.   The two-day congress featured distinguished local and foreign speakers delved into the latest medical developments and scientific advances in clinical care, research and medical education.