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(From left) Prof Tan Eng Chye, President of NUS; Assoc Prof Benjamin Ong, Director of Medical Services, MOH; Mr Mike McMullen, President and Chief Executive of Agilent Technologies; and Assoc Prof Eugene Liu, Chief Executive of NUH, at the launch of the NUS-Agilent Hub for Translation and Capture

The NUS-Agilent Hub for Translation & Capture (NUS-Agilent Hub) was officially launched by Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, Director of Medical Services of the Ministry of Health (MOH), at the opening ceremony held in NUS on 19 August 2019. The research hub, which comprises laboratories located in NUS and NUH, provides 1,000 square metres of research space to facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations among scientists, clinicians and industry partners to translate biochemical research into clinical applications.

Through research in areas such as lipidomics and synthetic biology, and supported by data analytics, NUS and Agilent hope to develop innovative ways that enhance the accuracy of clinical diagnostics based on data obtained from patients’ blood samples. The initial research focus areas are cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which account for 30 per cent of all deaths in Singapore in 20171, and affected 440,000 Singaporean adults in 2014 respectively2.

The NUS-Agilent Hub aims to be a global premier one-stop research centre for informing clinical testing through the use of emerging technologies and translational studies to provide greater insight and accuracy to clinical biochemistry testing. This collaboration between NUS, Agilent and NUH represents a unique and innovative approach to conducting joint research into important health issues and medical science. The “hub and satellite model” allows research to be conducted centrally in Singapore, but shared widely — locally, regionally as well as globally through key partnerships and alliances supported by NUS and Agilent.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “This partnership with Agilent and NUH builds on NUS’ strengths and focus in biomedical sciences and translational medicine, the state-of-art mass spectrometry technology at Agilent and clinical expertise at NUH. We are excited about this unique opportunity to further extend our longstanding collaborative relationship with Agilent and NUH into the area of clinical diagnostics, which could bring about positive societal and economic impact to Singapore.”

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(Far right) Prof Markus Wenk, Lead Principal Investigator of NUS-Agilent Hub, explaining how the NUS-Agilent Hub works

Moving Forward

Dr Choi Hyung Won, Co-Principal Investigator and Associate Professor at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, shared how changes in lipid molecules in the blood samples of a patient can sometimes be indicative of a disease and when it may occur. Given Singapore’s population size, data sampling can be used to build a prediction model to be used in local hospitals.

Dr Loh Tze Ping (Co-Principal Investigator, NUH Department of Laboratory Medicine) commented that the discoveries made at the facility might one day be used routinely. With an in-depth testing service, doctors could better diagnose patients and care can be moved upstream where issues in patients can be detected before conditions manifest in the early stages of the disease. He opined that this predictive model may one day be able to tell where patients end up in future.

Read the press release here.

News Coverage


References

  1. Singapore Heart Foundation. Singapore Statistics. https://www.myheart.org.sg/my-heart/heart-statistics/singapore-statistics/
  2. Healthhub, Ministry of Health, Singapore. Diabetes in Singapore. https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/626/diabetes#footnotes