Philanthropic support for MERCI, part of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, fosters innovations that have the potential to benefit millions of patients.


An electronic device that rotates bedridden patients’ bodies to prevent them from developing bed sores. A removable barrier in the stomach that helps resolve Type 2 diabetes by limiting the absorption of food and creating a feeling of fullness.


These are just two innovations to improve the lives of patients that were taken from concept to reality thanks to gifts to the Medical Engineering Research & Commercialization Initiative (MERCI) at the Department of Surgery at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.


“It is very challenging to obtain funding to transform an idea from being just an idea into a tried and tested proof of concept that can be used to apply for government or other grants. These philanthropic gifts provide a much-needed leg up for our team who are working hard to understand what clinicians need and to translate those needs into products that will make a difference to patients’ lives,” shares Professor Lee Chuen Neng, Chair, MERCI.


Mr Prajogo Pangestu supported MERCI as a seed gift partner in 2009 to support groundbreaking research in medical devices. His gift has contributed to MERCI’s success by enabling the team to address many of today’s top medical conditions by bringing innovations to patients to help reduce suffering and improve the quality of patient care.

MERCI has many innovations under its belt. The Flipod, the product of a collaboration with the NUS Division of Industrial Design, provides unsupervised body rotational movement for bedridden patients. It is designed to reduce sleep disruption, and has the benefits of being small, portable and affordable.


The Gastroduodenal Sleeve (GDS), designed to resolve both Type 2 diabetes and obesity, mimics the effects of bariatric surgery, where parts of the stomach and intestines are removed to reduce weight and bring diabetes into remission. The GDS is a safe, minimally invasive and reversible solution that is endoscopically inserted and anchored in the stomach. By occupying space in the stomach, the GDS prevents the absorption of food and reduces appetite. It can easily be removed at the end of the treatment.


“The gifts to MERCI have a multiplier effect: they have the potential to change the lives for the better of not one patient but millions of patients. Moreover, they are part of the creation of an ecosystem, providing rewarding career opportunities for many, where medical technology solutions are conceptualised and eventually produced. These devices provide practical solutions to benefit patients in Singapore, across the region, and throughout the world,” explains Prof Lee.


This story was first published on February 14, 2017 on NUS Giving at