MediCine

 

A PUBLICATION OF THE 
NUS YONG LOO LIN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

 


 

Issue 30 / May 2019

FEATURE ARTICLE

Crossing the Rubicon

 

Chinese scientist He Jiankui stunned the world when he announced that he had successfully edited the genes of two new-born babies. Is gene editing technology safe? What are the implications of manipulating the human genome? Associate Professor Roger Foo, Senior Consultant at the Cardiovascular Research Institute, National University Heart Centre and Dr Owen Schaefer of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics share their perspectives.


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DEAN'S MESSAGE

 

Dear Reader, 

 

Shortly, we will welcome about 560 young men and women of the Medicine and Nursing classes of 2024 and 2022 respectively. They will undergo a transformative educational experience over the next three to five years, one that will equip them with medical and nursing skills and knowledge to be effective healthcare providers. They will in time to come, join other NUS Medicine alumni in providing care for our community.
 
As the School cycles through a new academic year, our biomedical research work continues apace. This issue, we present a discussion on gene editing. It is a science that has come under a cloud caused by the controversial editing of the genomes of two babies born in China. In another marvellous piece of research work, our colleagues have found the reason for chronic rejection of transplanted organs. This opens the way for precision medicine in transplant, where specific immunosuppressive strategies can be devised to minimise transplant failure and reduce transplant patients’ risk of getting infections and cancer. A third story that we are pleased to share with readers is about the speed at which the human brain processes and manages information: their finding gives new meaning to the phrase, quick thinking.
 

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DOSSIER

 

Ensuring Mental Health for All

 

In the past 40 years, much progress has been made in the field of psychiatry in Singapore. We have learnt more about the local mental health landscape and understood how our unique cultural and social issues impact the practice of psychiatry. At the heart of academic psychiatry lies the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine Department of Psychological Medicine. Started in 1979 with a small team of six people, we now have more than 30 academic, research and administrative staff working to push the boundaries of research and education in psychiatry.

 

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Resilience Key to Mental Fortitude

 

The NUS Department of Psychological Medicine started the year with the 5th NUS Academic Psychiatry Conference. It was centred around the theme “Resilience Across the Age Continuum”, a very pertinent theme in our day and age. With psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment on the rise, the spotlight focuses on whether such conditions can be prevented or staved off.

 

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East-West Dialogue at NUHS-Harvard BIDMC Conference

 

The fourth edition of the NUHS-Harvard BIDMC Conference – Updates in Internal Medicine was held on 25-27 January 2019. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) is a major teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School (HMS) and has collaborated closely with the NUHS in areas of education and research. Building on the successes of the previous three conferences, this year’s overarching theme – “When East Meets West” – was aptly brought about by the first of two keynote talks.

 

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SCIENCE OF LIFE

 

Mushrooms May Reduce Risk of Cognitive Decline

 

A team from the Department of Psychological Medicine and Department of Biochemistry at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine has found that seniors who consume more than two standard portions of mushrooms weekly may have 50 per cent reduced odds of having mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

 

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No Mere Gut Feeling

 

Since most of the microbes in our gut are bacteria, they tend to hog much of the microbiome research limelight. But, lurking amongst the bacteria are other microbes such as single-cell eukaryotes (SCE) and viruses, which have been largely ignored until now. If doctors and scientists think of Blastocystis (one of the most common gut SCEs) at all, they often regard it as a harmless commensal organism, peacefully co-existing with its bacterial neighbours. However, that could change with the publication of a new study from NUS Medicine.

 

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Transplant Organ Rejection – Researchers Gain New Insights

 

Professor A. Vathsala, Co-director of the National University Centre for Organ Transplantation at the National University Hospital (NUH) and Professor of Medicine, shared that between 30% to 40% of kidney transplants are lost over time to rejection. She, together with Associate Professor Paul MacAry of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at NUS Medicine, decided to collaborate on addressing one major clinical problem at NUH’s NUCOT: How to make each transplanted organ last longer?

 

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INSIGHTS

 

An Ethical Dilemma

 

Chinese scientist He Jiankui stunned the world when he announced that he had successfully edited the genes of two new-born babies. Is gene editing technology safe? What are the implications of manipulating the human genome? Associate Professor Roger Foo, Senior Consultant at the Cardiovascular Research Institute, National University Heart Centre share their perspective.

 

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A Case against A Moratorium on Germline Gene Editing

 

Should researchers put the brakes on genetically engineering babies? Leading scientists and ethicists recently called for a moratorium on clinical applications of germline gene editing: inheritable alterations to the DNA of embryos to improve kids’ health or other features – or just “gene editing,” for short.

 

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Living With Loss - A Word of Consolation to 

'The Ones Left Behind'

 

Birth and death are universal human conditions, yet ironically, each of us will experience these phenomena, directly and indirectly, in our unique way.

 

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SARS Made Me A Better Nurse

 

When I started work as a nurse in 2001, after graduating from Nanyang Polytechnic, I never thought I would end up on the hospital bed as a patient. Two years later, it happened.

 

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ALL IN THE FAMILY

 

Building Family Medicine at NUS/NUHS - 
A Progress Update

 

The Department of Family Medicine (DFM) at NUHS was established on 1 Feb 2018. Much work has been done, including appointing new department and education managers and consolidating the Undergraduate Family Medicine curriculum to extend it across four of the five years of the MBBS at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

 

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ALUMNI VOICES

 

The Three H's of Medicine

 

The Department of Family Medicine (DFM) at NUHS was established on 1 Feb 2018. Much work has been done, including appointing new department and education managers and consolidating the Undergraduate Family Medicine curriculum to extend it across four of the five years of the MBBS at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

 

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PEOPLE OF NUS MEDICINE

 

Music Helps Her Be A Better Doctor

 

Initially awkward on stage, Phase 5 Medicine student Stephanie Yeap is now a seasoned performer who can rally her audience. An avid songwriter, Stephanie, also known as Stephycube, hopes to launch her Extended Play (EP) on Spotify later this year.

 

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SCHEDULER

 

MAY - JULY


 

Date Event & Venue
May 27 14th NUS-Nagasaki Symposium
LT35, Level 1, Centre for Translational Medicine (MD6), NUS

 
June 13 ASEAN Simulation User Network (SUN) Meeting 2019
Level 3, Centre for Healthcare Simulation, Centre for Translational Medicine (MD 6), NUS

 
July 3
Medical Dinner 2019
Padang & Collyer Ballrooms, Raffles City Convention Centre
 
July 14
Commencement Ceremony
University Cultural Centre, NUS
 
July 26 NUS Medicine Awards Ceremony
Auditorium, Level 1, NUHS Tower Block