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Singapore hosts a 'one-stop' institute to spur medical inventions

01 April 2013

The new institute will provide a hub for engineers, scientists and clinicians to work collaboratively and develop new medical device technologies.

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore has set up a new interdisciplinary institute which aims to be a hub for engineers, scientists and clinicians to work collaboratively and develop new technologies, providing solutions to important problems in health and medicine.

The new Nanyang Institute of Technology in Health and Medicine (NITHM) is driving research projects between NTU and major healthcare groups and hospitals both locally and internationally, linking up top clinician-scientists and doctors with faculty members across NTU’s colleges, research centres, and schools including Singapore’s latest medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

“NITHM has a three-pronged mission of research, education and innovation. The university-wide institute is geared up to collaborate with industry partners as it strives to create engineering-enabled solutions for medicine, health and healthcare. This will spur the creation and growth of the local medical device industry,” said Professor Carlstedt-Duke, Director of NITHM and a molecular endocrinologist of international repute.

“Creating an effective and well-connected platform for doctors, scientists and engineers to collaborate is crucial for next-generation medical treatments. The best solutions and treatments for patients have been borne out of interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts in recent years.”

The new research institute has eight medically-related focus areas, leveraging existing research strengths of the Colleges of Engineering and Science at NTU. The eight focus areas include:

- Sensing and Diagnostics
- Therapeutic Medical Devices
- Nanomedicine
- Tissue Engineering
- Systems Biology and Medicine
- Medical Imaging and Signal Analysis
- Drug Discovery and Synthetic Biology
- Health Systems Complexity

These eight areas of focus encompass more than ten key NTU research centres, which have over 200 existing projects in the fields of biomedical technologies, health and medicine.

Assisting Professor Carlstedt-Duke as Deputy Directors are Professor Subbu Venkatraman, a serial inventor for biomedical devices, and Associate Professor Nam-Joon Cho, who is widely recognised for his work in translational and regenerative medicine.

Professor Venkatraman is currently leading the research for a back-of-the-eye treatment which involves the development of small nano-capsules. These nano-capsules hold the drug and slowly diffuse from the front to the back of the eye, while releasing the drug over a long period of time.

Associate Professor Cho, who is at the forefront of developing new treatments for infectious diseases based on engineering approaches, is spearheading NTU’s efforts to engineer an artificial liver platform for research and clinical use. His international team of researchers, many of whom have been attracted to NTU from leading universities including Harvard, MIT and Carnegie Mellon, is working closely with clinicians at Singapore General Hospital and Stanford University to deliver practical solutions to a long-standing medical problem.


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