Issue 25 / February 2018


A Singaporean at Home in Afghanistan


The Afghanistan that much of the world pictures is that of a struggling country in a constant state of emergency: a land of dusty village houses, hostile, bearded men in turbans, fields of opium poppies, and all the while, a raging insurgency. Convinced that his medical knowledge should be the means to help alleviate suffering, Dr Wee Teck Young left his medical practice here in 2002 to join an NGO that was looking after Afghan refugees in Quetta, Pakistan.





The impact of a medical school is seen in the work of its graduates, staff and students. While their contribution to improvements in a nation’s overall health and well-being can be measured in many ways, it is what Shakespeare called “the quality of mercy” – in this instance, the compassion and professionalism expressed and displayed through the delivery of care – that most evidently touches and improves the lives of people.


Through the 113 years of the NUS medical school, our alumni and staff have consistently endeavoured to live up to this tradition of service. As we begin a new year, we pause to pay tribute to one of our finest – the late Professor Chia Boon Lock, who passed away in December last year at the age of 78.





Health Screening Efforts Reach Out to Elderly


Public Health Service (PHS) was a project initiated in 2004 by the NUS Medical Society, with a small committee of medical students. In its 12th year of service in 2017, PHS has grown and matured over the years. PHS has continuously adapted along with the changing healthcare landscape in Singapore to better serve the public in line with its motto – “Promoting Health, Spreading Awareness”.


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Technology-enhanced Education the Focus for 15th APMEC


The Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference (APMEC) series of conferences was initiated in 2003 and has grown almost ten-fold since its inception – a clear testimony to its popularity, reflecting the quality of its educational offerings to participants who now come, not only from Asia, but also from across the world.


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Killing Colorectal Cancer Cells with Engineered Bacteria and Broccoli Extract Combo


A team of researchers from the Department of Biochemistry, NUS Medicine, have found a way to turn a humble cocktail of bacteria and vegetables into a targeted system that seeks out and kills colorectal cancer cells. The study, which was led by Dr Chun-Loong Ho, was published online and in the January 2018 issue of Nature Biomedical Engineering.


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Mother's Antibodies May Worsen Dengue Infection in Children


A dengue vaccine that stimulates a strong T cell response in babies has been found to provide better and broader protection than vaccines which induce the production of mainly antibodies. An NUS research team that made this finding also found that a mother’s antibodies which help to protect her babies against dengue virus infection can also be detrimental in some situations, as these maternal antibodies can enhance the severity of dengue infection in babies or interfere with their immunisation.


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Landmark Genetic Study Better Predicts Stomach Cancer


A research team led by National University Health System (NUHS) and Duke-NUS Medical School has used genomic technologies to better understand intestinal metaplasia (IM), a known risk factor for gastric (stomach) cancer. Patients with IM are six times more likely to develop stomach cancer than those without. This study is an important part of an ambitious investigation to understand why some people develop stomach cancer, while others do not. The research, could also help detect patients who are infected with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which is also linked to the disease.


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Technology's Role in Training Safer Doctors


Learning in clinical medicine has evolved over the past century and in leaps and bounds in the past two decades in congruence with advancements in information technology. Gone are those days of experimentation in caring for patients, with the practice largely guided by the dictum, ‘see one, do one, teach one’. We have come a long way from there and medical practice is well-established through the structured research, publishing and sharing of lessons learnt.


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No One Left Behind


The Centre for Biomedical Ethics (CBmE) of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) is the first collaborating centre for bioethics to be designated within Asia by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2014. Since then, CBmE has supported WHO and its partners (including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and UNICEF) in advancing universal health coverage (UHC) across Asia and the Pacific.


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Patients, Palliative Care and Lessons The Textbooks Don't Teach


A few years ago, the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine undertook a comprehensive curriculum review for this very purpose of preparing graduates for the 21st century – streamlining, cross-referencing and curating, in order to provide flexibility and opportunities for students to learn according to their needs.


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Should Medicine Go "All In" on Ageing?


Perceptions of ageing are changing radically. In historic times, when an elder was a rarity, the tradition was often to show great respect and rely on the wisdom and experience that someone who lived through many challenges acquired. In the 20th century, however, the advent of many healthcare and societal changes led to a dramatic decline in age extrinsic causes of mortality. The number of elders (that is those over 65) in the population has grown dramatically.


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From Swords to Ploughshares


Dr Wee Teck Young, the NUS alumnus (MBBS Class of 1993) who in 2005 started and still works with the award-winning NGO, Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) in Kabul, finds the fixation with mobile phones disturbing because it obstructs real human-to-human conversations – and relationships are best built and forged when there is actual interpersonal interaction.


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Answering Military Medicine's Call


Martial artist, footballer, soldier, medical student. At 22, Chiew Wen Qi lives life con brio. The 22-year-old Phase III student at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine is the only girl in her batch to sign on with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) under the SAF Medicine Scholarship. There are eight male SAF Medicine scholars in her cohort. The scholarship allows Wen Qi to pursue medical studies locally and embark on a career as a commissioned medical officer in the SAF Medical Corps.


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Event & Venue

Feb 6-9 16th Asia Pacific Evidence-Based Medicine and Nursing (APEBMN) Workshop & Conference
Auditorium, Level 1, NUHS Tower Block
Feb 19 39th FRCS Orthopaedic Postgraduate Course
Seminar Room, Level 11, NUHS Tower Block
Feb 24 4th Annual Lee Kim Tah Lecture: Arts for Mental Health of the Elderly
Seminar Room, Level 11, NUHS Tower Block
Feb 26 Overseas Inter-professional Education Expert Visit
Mar 7-9 7th International Singapore Lipid Symposium (ISLS 7)
Auditorium, Centre for Life Sciences (CeLS), NUS
Mar 12 39th FRCS Orthopaedic Postgraduate Course
Seminar Room, Level 11, NUHS Tower Block
Mar 16 The Breast Cancer Meanings Symposium
Auditorium, Level 1, NUHS Tower Block
Mar 21-24 Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) World Congress
Suntec City Convention and Exhibition Centre
Apr 2 Oon Chiew Seng Public Lecture: Long-living Through Recycling -
Did You Remember to Take Out the Garbage? Your Cells Sure Did!

Auditorium, Level 1 NUHS Tower Block
Apr 4 Oon Chiew Seng Lunchtime Scientific Lecture:
Targeting Selective Autophagy in Ageing and Age-related Disorders

Auditorium, Centre for Life Sciences (CeLS), NUS
Apr 5-7
Class of 1968 Reunion - 50th Anniversary
Kent Ridge Guild House, NUS