Dear Reader,

As we usher in the Year of the Earth Pig, I would like to sincerely thank three groups of people chiefly responsible for the success of the NUS medical school – our alumni, our staff, and our students. In our quest to inspire health for everyone, the support and encouragement of our alumni is invaluable. Their generous contributions enable the School to enhance its mission of educating tomorrow’s healthcare professionals and to finding better ways of tackling disease.

 

Take Dr Oon Chiew Seng, for example. The centenarian’s abiding interest and compassion for the aged has seen her undertake a number of roles and responsibilities dedicated to advancing the cause of dementia patients. It has also spurred her to actively fund research into ageing-related illnesses here at NUS Medicine.


Our staff and students form the other two pillars of the School. Consider the work of our researchers, such as the team comprising Department of Microbiology and Immunology Assistant Professor John Chen, graduate students Ms Chiang Yin Ning and Ms Melissa Su and their collaborators from the University of Glasgow. In their report in Science magazine, they described a new way in which bacteria evolve, one that is a thousand times more efficient than any currently known mechanisms. Their insights will help scientists to better understand how bacteria can rapidly develop increasing virulence and antibiotic resistance.


And thanks to Associate Professor Justin Chu and his team from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, non-invasive diagnosis of human diseases is now a reality. Following a study on using salivary micro RNA as a diagnostic marker for Hand,

Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in paediatric patients, they developed a rapid test for detecting HFMD using miRNA in saliva. This was done in collaboration with the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) A*STAR, KK Women's and Children's Hospital, and Taiwan’s Chang Gung University. The team has accurately distinguished HFMD patients from healthy persons by around 90% in the Singapore cohort, and 80% in the Taiwanese cohort. And in case you think that NUS Medicine academics only live for their work, check out what Professor Rajendran K. from the Department of Anatomy does when he has time on his hands.


I have always been deeply impressed by the abilities of our students, in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the community. They shoulder heavy study loads, yet still find time to participate at the highest levels in sports competitions and serve in the community. Succeeding generations of our students have planned and run the Neighbourhood Health Service and Public Health Service since 2008. Both community service programmes cater to HDB residents and were entirely initiated by our students to help improve the health of Singaporeans. Similarly, other programmes like Project Happy Apples and the Tri-Generational Homecare initiatives seek to improve the well-being of important segments of the community. These are all truly heart-warming efforts that speak volumes about our students.


I trust you will enjoy reading all about our wonderful alumni, staff and students.


With my very best wishes for a healthy and happy Lunar New Year.

 

Yap Seng