December 2017 | Issue 33
The future is now

Bio pic Xueli.jpg 

 


 


By Nanyang Assistant Professor Guan Xueli 


2017 will soon come to a close, high time to reflect on yet another year that has passed so quickly, the new year ahead and our long-term plans.

Have you ever wondered why we are always working so hard? Clearly, the future is now and we are constantly doing our best at each and every moment for our future, a future that belongs to ourselves, our family, our organisation, our nation and to some extent the world. Two key priorities, which matter in the past, at present and in the future, are health and learning.

The vision for the future of health was recently shared by many renowned speakers at a landmark event – the FutureHealth 2017 conference, organised jointly by LKCMedicine, the Centre for Healthcare Innovation and HealthTech NTU. A unique feature of this meeting was the forward looking perspective on health, a topic we must critically think about now, if not yesterday. I had the privilege to share how the technologies for lipidomics we have developed in the laboratory can contribute to predictive, preventive, personalised and participatory (P4) medicine.

P4 medicine can only be achieved through consolidated efforts from individuals, healthcare groups as well as local governments. Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong, at this meeting, announced the data contribution by healthcare providers and laboratories, even private sector ones, is now mandatory via patients’ National Electronic Health Records. Everyone has a unique genetic makeup, lifestyle and personal history. Hence, the consolidation of efforts at the national level is an encouraging and major step towards the realisation of P4 medicine and better healthcare locally.

At the School and University level, we are preparing students for the emerging areas of phenomics and P4 medicine by offering two new courses – an undergraduate biology module on metabolomics and lipidomics, and a PhD module on emerging Omics technologies in systems biology and personalised medicine. LKCMedicine’s Scholarly Project and NTU’s URECA programme are great mechanisms for our MBBS undergraduates to gain experience in research with direct applications in personalised health and medicine. This year alone, our group has the pleasure of hosting five very talented and adventurous medical students – Reudi Chan, Candice Ang, Clarence See, PS Pandiyan and Tan An Sen. In fact, our staff and students are our future, and together, we shape them now.

Aligned with this philosophy, it has also been my privilege to work with LKCMedicine’s seminar committee to introduce the upcoming international Young Investigator Symposium. Over two days (1 to 2 February 2018), nine prominent international and local speakers will share their scientific discoveries and critically, their journey to success. We hope their stories and journey will inspire our students and research staff on their training here at LKCMedicine.

A success story already happened right here in our School, with Nanyang Assistant Professor Luo Dahai being awarded the prestigious EMBO Young Investigator Award. We will get to hear his story at this event, so stay tuned! A mentoring session is also included, where students and staff will get to consult the speakers on professional development.

People development, like health, has to start now, as our future is now.