​Why is research increasingly important in healthcare? What value can an Academic Medical Centre (AMC) such as SingHealth Duke-NUS bring to the biomedical research landscape?

Opening the plenary of SingHealth Research Open House, which took place on 21 January at Academia held in conjunction with the Global Young Scientists Summit 2015, Professor Wong Tien Yin, SingHealth’s Group Director of Research, answered these pertinent questions in biomedical research.

Prof Wong brought the audience’s attention to the Academia building where the plenary was held:  “Why do we need a research building here?  Shouldn’t this be a space for a bigger hospital instead?

“We can’t keep doing what we’ve been traditionally been doing.   No matter how many more hospitals we’re building and how many more doctors we’re training, research and innovation is the only way we can find new ways to improve our care for patients.   Singapore has an ageing population.   In 20 years’ time, will they be treated with the same methods as today for the same condition?   There is a demand to think beyond just providing care.”

There are investigations conducted by bigger countries and big pharma elsewhere, but the onus is on Singapore to lead research relevant to Singaporeans.   Prof Wong gave an example: “The prevalence of myopia in adults in Singapore is much higher than in other countries.   This is a problem we need to tackle, but is not interesting to researchers in other countries.   Our patients also behave differently and we can’t base our practice on data from other countries.”

Every institution, be it a research institute, a university, a pharmaceutical company or a hospital, has their own role in bringing new discoveries and therapies to patient.   SingHealth and Duke-NUS does it by developing an academic medicine culture and creating an AMC.   “An AMC is a system where we don’t only practice and apply medicine and clinical care, but a system where we become part of the learning process.

“Eight of the last ten nobel prizes in Medicine were for work done in AMCs.   We hope we can create a culture where all continually ask questions and challenge the status quo of clinical care.”

Professor Soo Khee Chee, SingHealth’s Deputy Group CEO (Research & Education) summed up the plenary by sharing his thoughts about the merits of working in an AMC.   He said that first of all, it is a place with an opportunity to be intellectually stimulated with questions about both science and life continually being asked. Next, in an AMC we are just one step away from new information on discoveries and findings. And finally, it is relevant to our patients.

“We are helping our patients with serious problems that affect their lives – a compelling reason to be part of a huge enterprise that is a mixture of not only science and medicine but also sociology, as we deal with humans in our research and clinical practice.”

SingHealth Research Open House 2015

The value of an Academic Medical Centre

Kicked-off by insightful sharing by Nobel Laureates Sir Timothy Hunt on the path to winning a Nobel Prize and Professor Harald zur Hausen on link between red meat and cancer, the SingHealth Research Open House was held successfully on 21 January 2015.

The Open House, held in conjunction with the Global Young Scientists Summit 2015,  introduced the vibrant research ecosystem in the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC). It attracted more than four hundred like-minded scientists and researchers from institutions locally and internationally. 

The event has received overwhelming support from exhibitors from SingHealth institutions and academic clinical programs, the research core platforms and strategic programs, as well as the signature research programs from Duke-NUS.   Collectively, a total of 29 research booths were set up to present the wide range of research support and capabilities in SingHealth and Duke-NUS. The capabilities demonstrated the AMCs’ ability to support molecular research to clinical research that involves humans.