Medical research holds the key to unanswered health mysteries and it is certainly not far-fetched to say that researchers are some of the most tenacious professionals, often battling five to 10-year studies (or more!) with wins and losses in between.

Under the recent National Medical Research Council (NMRC) Talent Programme, three NHCS researchers were recognised and supported for their outstanding work:
  • Prof Stuart Cook, Tanoto Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Distinguished Clinician Scientist and Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, received the prestigious Singapore Translational Research (STaR) Investigator Award, cementing his status as an internationally renowned and outstanding investigator in areas such as translational and clinical research.
  • Dr Lohendran Baskaran, Senior Consultant from the Department of Cardiology took home the Transition Award (TA), aimed at building young researchers’ capability in research and transiting to a more independent research position.
  • Asst Prof Angela Koh, Senior Consultant from the Department of Cardiology clinched the Clinician Scientist Award (CSA) (Investigator) for the second time, which enables her to continue her pursuit of internationally competitive translational and clinical research to bring discoveries to bedside applications. 
Let's get to know Asst Prof Angela Koh better.

The Cardiac Ageing Expert
Take the leap of faith, together we win, for the patients we serve – Asst Prof Angela Koh‘s research mantra radiates optimism and positivity even in the face of challenges, inevitable in the world of medical research.

“I am honored to receive the CSA (Investigator) for the second time and owe it to a strong committed group of co-investigators, mentors, research coordinators and administrators who have made this award possible,” beamed Asst Prof Koh. She added, “We soar together as partners and friends, driven by a common goal to alleviate healthcare burdens of our patients.”

Asst Prof Koh started learning about research as a first-year cardiology registrar where she witnessed how research techniques could be properly applied to answer uncertainties in daily clinical practice. By her second-year registrar training, a decision was made. “I made up my mind to pursue research, and pair research and clinical work into a lifelong career. I received immense support from the department, especially Prof Terrance Chua, who has been the fundamental reason why it has worked out so well for me since then.”  

Passionate about the field of cardiac ageing, Asst Prof Koh explained, “Most of us understand traditional risk factors like hypertension and high cholesterol well but not cardiac ageing. It is an enigma – there was no proper baseline study done on ageing-related heart diseases when I first started researching into this area, yet with the silver tsunami upon us, there is an urgency to understand the correlation better and to find out how to tailor cardiovascular care for our ageing adults.”

Acknowledging that it is a long road ahead, Asst Prof Koh remains hopeful that every step counts. In fact, her research team has made important strides forward when they discovered, after a five-year study, a link between weakening of the skeletal muscle function as one ages and heart size. 

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Asst Prof Koh shared that they are currently working on preventive strategies to tackle complications of the ageing heart, guided by ongoing work in basic and clinical sciences that tailor strategies according to personalised risks. “This award encourages our work across multiple domains which includes community carers, exercise specialists, artificial intelligence and industry partners in biotechnology,” Asst Prof Koh said.

Asst Prof Angela Koh (middle in bright blue) with her research team.

When asked what the best part about being a researcher is, the cardiac ageing expert said, “The ability to dream, apply methods to that dream, and voila, one gets the answer! Good dreams give you a warm fuzzy feeling in the heart, bad dreams strengthen the heart!”