Two clinician scientists from the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) have won grants under the National Medical Research Council’s (NMRC’s) Translational & Clinical Research (TCR) Flagship Programme.
They will be working on bringing precision medicine to patients with brain tumours and liver cancer, allowing tailored treatment based on individual patient’s genetic and clinical profiles.
NMRC TCR Flagship Programme focuses on studies into key areas, namely cancer, cardiovascular/metabolic disorders, neurosciences, infectious diseases and eye diseases. The programme brings together hospitals, national disease centres, universities and research institutes to facilitate bench to bedside discovery.
Targeting brain tumours through precision medicine
Left to Right - Assoc Prof Christopher Ang Beng Ti (NNI), Prof Patrick Tan, (Duke-NUS & GIS) Prof Chang Young-Tae (NUS & SBC)
Assoc Prof Christopher Ang Beng Ti, Senior Consultant & Head of Neurosurgery (SGH Campus), NNI, is using the TCR grant to understand glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer which is particularly aggressive and uniformly fatal.
He and his team will be further defining the subtypes of the cancer in relation to prognosis and treatment, so as to match patients to specific therapies. In addition, new non-invasive methods will be developed to monitor progress of disease and also effect maximal resection of malignant gliomas at surgery.
Ultimately, their work on precision medicine in glioblastoma seeks to extend the survival and quality of life of patients.
His team members include Prof Patrick Tan, Professor, Duke-NUS Medical School and Senior Group Leader, A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore, as well as Prof Chang Young-Tae, Professor, National University of Singapore and A*STAR’s Singapore Bioimaging Consortium.
Tackling liver cancer across the Asia-Pacific region

Prof Pierce Chow (second from left), with the TCR Flagship Programme steering committee members who are also senior collaborators of the team.
Left to Right - Assoc Prof Dan Yock Young (NUHS), Prof Pierce Chow (NCCS), Assoc Prof Toh Han Chong (NCCS), Prof Ng Huck Hui (GIS), Dr Zhai Weiwei (GIS)
Absent - Prof KK Madhavan (NUHS), Prof Salvatore Albani (STIIC)
Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is the third most common cancer in the Asia-Pacific and the second most important cause of cancer deaths in the world.
Prof Pierce Chow, Senior Consultant, Division of Surgical Oncology, NCCS has been conducting translational and clinical research on HCC and has led five multi-centre clinical trials of the AHCC trials group that have involved more than 30 centres in 14 countries.
Building on positive results of earlier genetic and immunology studies in surgically resected HCC, he will now leverage the grant to study how mutations in the cancer’s genetic makeup and cellular environment impact clinical outcomes.
The study will develop drug development strategies and risk stratification for patients and bring precision medicine for individuals with HCC. He and his team eventually hope to establish additional multi-national clinical trials across Asia Pacific to advance treatment strategies for HCC.
Prof Chow’s team members include Dr Zhai Weiwei and Prof Ng Huck Hui from A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), Prof Salvatore Albani and Dr Valerie Chew from SingHealth Translational Immunology and Inflammation Centre (STIIC), A/Prof Toh Han Chong and Dr Choo Su Pin from NCCS, Dr Brian Goh from SGH and Prof KK Madhavan and A/Prof Dan Yock Young from NUHS.