April 2015 | ISSUE 17
LKCMedicine appoints new Scientific Directors to spearhead research themes

On 1 April, LKCMedicine appointed three senior scientists to lead the School's key research themes. Professor Artur Schmidtchen will lead research in Dermatology & Skin Biology, Professor Balázs Gulyás in Neuroscience & Mental Health, and Professor George Chandy in Infection & Immunity. They join Professor Bernhard Boehm, who heads the School's fourth key research theme in Metabolic Disease.

The newly-appointed scientific directors will drive the strategic direction of the School's research and bring out academic excellence in teaching, research and clinical medicine. They will work closely with LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Research Professor Philip Ingham FRS in actively developing collaborative relationships both with Singapore's research and healthcare community as well as with overseas research organisations, to drive clinical and translational research in their respective areas. They will also work closely with the directors of the School's technology platforms, to synergise interdisciplinary research.

As scientific directors, they will also provide guidance in developing postgraduate education modules to support the School's PhD programme, as well as mentor and provide scientific leadership to junior faculty members and assist with the development of research-led educational processes at LKCMedicine.

Prof Ingham said, "I am very excited to be working with the new directors in developing the School's research portfolio: each has demonstrated outstanding scientific leadership and vision that combined with their medical training will help steer LKCMedicine towards its goal of achieving world-leading research excellence."


thumb_Artur Schmidtchen_1024 2.jpgProf Artur Schmidtchen, Scientific Director of Dermatology and Skin Biology Research Programme and Professor of Dermatology and Skin Biology

After completing his PhD studies in the area of medical chemistry, a postdoctoral stay at the University of California, Los Angeles, and medical studies at Lund University followed by an internship as MD, Prof Schmidtchen joined the university's department of dermatology in 1996.

Prof Schmidtchen is renowned for pioneering research on antimicrobial peptides, enabling novel therapies for infective diseases in skin and blood. At LKCMedicine, Prof Schmidtchen is leading the development of conceptually novel treatment approaches for infective-inflammatory diseases. Bringing together skin biology, wounding, infection-inflammation and innate immunity, his aim is to create a strong collaborative environment facilitating translation of basic discoveries to the clinic and industry. Currently, Prof Schmidtchen is also the School's representative at the Skin Research Institute of Singapore.

His aims for Dermatology and Skin Biology research at LKCMedicine focus on enabling interdisciplinary interactions that bring together basic, translational and clinical experts from a range of backgrounds. "In the longer term, it is my hope that this broad and interdisciplinary approach will create a unique and internationally competitive position for the dermatology theme, spanning from basic to clinical science, and encompassing not only 'classical' dermatology, but a holistic perspective," said Prof Schmidtchen, who also hopes to attract clinical and pre-clinical PhD students to the programme.

IMG_8414.JPGProf Balázs Gulyás, Scientific Director of Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Programme and Professor of Translational Neuroscience

Prior to joining LKCMedicine as Professor of Translational Neuroscience, Prof Gulyás spent most of his scientific career at the world-renowned Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. After obtaining his MD at Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary, in 1981, he obtained his PhD in neuroscience at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1988, followed by his postdoctoral studies at Karolinska's Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Prof Gulyás is a member of Academia Europaea, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Royal Belgian Academy of Medical Sciences.

At LKCMedicine, Prof Gulyás is leading the translational neuroscience efforts, focusing on the exploration of early disease mechanisms leading to neurological and psychiatric diseases as well as the development of early diagnostic markers and therapeutic approaches applicable to clinical patients. Prof Gulyás heads NTU's initiative on human brain imaging, including the setting up of an advanced multimodality pre-clinical and clinical imaging centre at the School's Clinical Sciences Building and Experimental Medicine Building. In addition, he is also leading the establishment of the brain bank in partnership with the National Neuroscience Institute and Imperial.


IMG_7861.JPGProf George Chandy, Scientific Director of Infection and Immunity Research Programme and Professor of Molecular Physiology

Following medical training at the Christian Medical College in India, Prof Chandy obtained his PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK. In 1983, he moved to the University of California, Irvine, as a postdoctoral clinician-scientist researcher with the Division of Basic and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, where he combined clinical work at the Division's Clinic with research at the laboratory of the Division Chief, Professor Sudhir Gupta. He moved to the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at UC Irvine in 1990 and was ultimately promoted to Professor.

By bringing together basic scientists, clinicians, chemists and engineers, he aims to develop a translational research programme that expedites the discovery and development of a pipeline of vaccines, novel therapies and medical devices for infectious, autoimmune, fibrovascular and metabolic diseases. In addition, with such an attractive multidisciplinary hub, Prof Chandy aims to attract and nurture the most promising talents in Singapore to expand the programme.

Summing up his vision, Prof Chandy said, "Our overall objective is to bridge the valley of death between the cutting-edge research performed at academic institutions and the completion of human phase-1 safety trials when biopharmaceutical companies typically license drugs."​