December 2016 | Issue 27
Singapore hosts 9th Zebrafish Disease Models Conference

The ninth Zebrafish Disease Models Conference opened on 4 October to a strong attendance from scientists, researchers and clinicians from Singapore and abroad looking to share ideas and discuss the potential of Zebrafish models in studying human diseases.

Held over four days at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Convention Centre, the conference was organised by LKCMedicine Professor of Developmental Biology Philip Ingham FRS, who is also the Vice-President of the Zebrafish Disease Models Society (ZDMS).

Speakers at the conference hailed from across the globe with many from the US, UK and the Asia-Pacific region – among them keynote speakers Professor Stuart Cook from Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School, who is also Professor of Clinical & Molecular Cardiology at Imperial College London; and John Mattick, Executive Director of Australia’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research – presenting their findings and ideas on topics ranging from technology uses in Zebrafish research to battling diseases using these models.

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L-R: ZDMS Vice-President Prof Ingham FRS delivers his welcome; LKCMedicine Dean Prof Best delivers the opening address

Delivering the opening address, LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best highlighted Singapore’s strong investment in biomedical research and alongside that, NTU’s rising research impact, which is reflected in the university’s rise in international university rankings. Prof Best said at LKCMedicine, research is an integral part in its quest to be a world-class medical school.

“A medical school should be positioned to support a whole range of research, from laboratory-based biomedical research at the molecular and cellular level to pre-clinical, clinical and population-based research and implementation sciences research that examines the operations of the health system. And we recognise at LKCMedicine that in this research spectrum, pre-clinical research using animal models to understand mechanisms of normal biological processes including embryonic development and the abnormalities of these processes that lead to disease as well as the testing of therapies that might prevent or ameliorate disease is critically important.”

After reflecting on the contributions of Zebrafish models to western science, Prof Best, who lauded the contributions of Prof Ingham, a leading developmental biologist and former LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Research, to scientific knowledge on Zebrafish, announced that the School’s Zebrafish research facility at its Experimental Medicine Building will be home to an estimated 3,000 tanks when the fish facility is completed by April 2017.

He added, “At LKCMedicine, we are very committed to Zebrafish research and so it is very fitting, and we are very pleased to be a platinum sponsor for this conference.”

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L-R: Welcome reception held at LKCMedicine's headquarters was attended by conference participants; LKCMedicine staff speaking with conference participant at the LKCMedicine booth

The first day of the conference was topped off with a welcome reception held at LKCMedicine’s Headquarters building in Novena, attended by about a hundred conference participants. Participants also had the chance to learn more about LKCMedicine via a booth at the conference venue, where staff and faculty hosted a steady stream of visitors keen to know more about the work done at the medical school.

Aside from Prof Ingham and Prof Best, representation from the medical school included LKCMedicine Visiting Professor Paul Martin, who spoke on “Modelling cancer inflammation and treatments including surgery and radiotherapy”, and LKCMedicine Assistant Professor of Developmental Biology Tom Carney, who was part of the organising committee.

The conference, which concluded on 7 October, had a packed programme comprising not just talks and lectures but also poster presentations, research interest group workshops and mentoring meetings for postdocs and graduates as well as a recreational visit to Singapore’s Botanic Gardens. With such a strong showing, the ZDMS also used this opportunity to hold its annual general meeting at the end of the conference.