Research is no longer a luxury but a necessity to overcome rising challenges faced by public healthcare.
Extract from Academic Medicine Keynote Lecture by Professor Dame Sally Davies, 9 April 2014, Academia.

"Advances in research improve health outcomes and participation in the research process improves quality of care. Research also contributes to the growth of the national economy." 

– Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, London, Distinguished Member of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medicine Advisory Council (AMAC)


Professor Dame Sally Davies was in SingHealth recently to deliver her keynote lecture as part of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medicine Advisory Council biennial meeting (see sidebar). Prof Dame Sally is the Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Scientific Adviser at Department of Health, Richmond House, London. She is a Distinguished Member of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medicine Advisory Council.

On an international front, Prof Dame Sally is a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Advisory Committee and a member of the International Advisory Committee for Singapore’s A*STAR.

With an ageing population in the UK and Singapore, both countries face similar challenges such as the provision of health services to ageing populations, tackling long-term conditions including dementia, antimicrobial resistance and understanding how best to address revolutionary changes to healthcare such as the rise of genomics.   These challenges, coupled with the rising expectations of public healthcare from patients and the public, make public health a key focus for many governments – and clinical academic research is needed to provide the solution.

Dame Sally stated that “Research underpins our response to these challenges. Government commitment to research is very important for allowing public health systems to respond to these growing challenges.   Advances in health research improves health outcomes and participation in the research process improves quality of care. Research also contributes to the growth of the national economy. ”

She further described how health research was made a government strategy to improve public healthcare in the UK. As Director‐General of Research & Development for the Department of Health and the National Health Service (NHS) in England, she established the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in 2006, with the budget rising to current £1 billion per year.   Since being formed, the NIHR has transformed health research by creating an integrated health research system in the National Health Service, supporting projects with direct research funding, with a robust and comprehensive research infrastructure and by providing high quality training for the next generation of clinical research leaders.   NIHR commissions and funds health research in the NHS, as well as social care and public health research to support decision‐making by professionals, policy‐makers and patients. 

One of the initiatives highlighted was the NIHR Research Professorships where a range of multidisciplinary healthcare personnel, from surgeons to physiotherapists to MRI physicists, are given five‐year funding to carry out research in their particular fields – research in topics that matter, anchored around the needs of patients and the public.  

She shared with her Singapore audience that “the UK government remains committed to funding research.   But this cannot be done without commitment to long-term investment.”  Dame Sally cited a study which demonstrated that a £1 public funding in cardiovascular research produces a stream of benefits equivalent to earning £0.39 per year in perpetuity – proof that research is a good investment. 

Dame Sally added “You need to show researchers that you value them by giving them the time and infrastructure to do their research. You need to show support for all levels of research personnel, including those in supporting roles such as laboratory technicians; providing clear career pathways and career progression.”


Internationally prominent figures in the Academic Medicine Advisory Council (AMAC) provide the SingHealth Board and the Duke-NUS Governing Board independent advice and guidance on the development of Academic Medicine.

During their visit from 7 to 9 April 2014, the AMAC held several intense dialogues with the senior leaders and key appointment holders from SingHealth, Duke-NUS, the joint institutes AMRI and AM•EI, Academic Clinical Programs and the Duke-NUS Signature Research Programs.

The AMAC shared their recommendations for the cluster to further advance our Academic Medicine journey and ensure that our patients continue to receive the best possible care, such as :

• More intense training and career development for future leaders
• Adopting best practices to retain the best talents
• Further enhancing the rich research culture
• Using opportunities available in Singapore for core medical disciplines
• Proactive planning for managing of the three medical schools in Singapore
• Leveraging on the strengths of Duke Durham
• Pursuing medical technology to get ahead of the competition