June 2014 | ISSUE 12
News in brief

NTU/LKCMedicine-NHG research seminar on infection and immunity
LKCMedicine, NTU and the National Healthcare Group (NHG) held their third joint research seminar on infection and immunity on 21 May 2014 at LKCMedicine's Novena Campus. The seminar, which was opened by LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Research and Toh Kian Chui Distinguished Professor Philip Ingham FRS and NHG Deputy Group CEO for Education and Research Associate Professor Lim Tock Han, saw various presentations from LKCMedicine and NHG researchers on a range of topics from the role of anti-microbial peptides in skin and wound healing to the use of genome technologies and bioinformatics to study HIV and other infectious diseases.


NTU ranks 5th in Times Higher Education's Top 100 Under 50 universities
NTU has climbed three places to fifth among the world’s top young universitiesin the latest results of London-based Times Higher Education’s Top 100 Under 50 ranking. Now into its third year, the Times Higher Education ranking lists the 100 best universities below the age of 50, which are seen as the rising stars of the world’s global higher education scene. NTU is the only Singapore university listed in the young universities’ ranking. With its global upward trajectory, NTU has climbed 11 places over the last two years, including eight places to eighth last year.

NTU top in Asia for research impact
NTU has emerged from the shadows of other Asian universities including NUS, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Tokyo University to overtake them in research impact. The 23-year-old university has produced the most amount of impactful research in recent years, making it the top Asian university in producing quality research. Data from New York-based Thomson Reuters and Amsterdam-based Elsevier revealed that NTU has been on a trajectory surging ahead of Hong Kong, Korean and Japanese universities in Asia from 2007. Another indication of NTU's transformation into a research powerhouse – the number of patents filed for inventions. Ten years ago, it had 14 patents to its name. This year, it has 329 active patents and 707 patent applications. Read the full article here.
 
£40M gift to create new biomedical engineering centre at Imperial College London
On 27 May 2014, Imperial announced that it is to build a pioneering biomedical engineering centre thanks to an unprecedented £40m gift from Michael Uren OBE and his foundation. The donation will support the construction of the Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Hub, a building at Imperial West, the College's new 25-acre research and innovation campus in White City, west London. The centre will house life-changing research into new and affordable medical technology, helping people affected by a diverse range of medical conditions. Imperial's world-class engineers, scientists and clinicians will work together in the new space alongside spin-out companies, helping to create a vibrant innovation district at Imperial West. The Hub will also incorporate clinical areas, providing patients with direct access to innovations in healthcare.

LKCMedicine Guest Lecture on novel pathways controlling pancreatic islet cell functions
On 7 May 2014, LKCMedicine hosted a lecture by University of Lausanne Physiology Professor Bernard Thorens on Genetic, genomic and physiological identification of novel pathways controlling pancreatic islet cell functions. Held at LKCMedicine’s Proteos facilities at Biopolis, the lecture was chaired by LKCMedicine Professor of Metabolic Disease Walter Wahli and attended about 45 researchers. During his talk, Prof Thorens enlightened the audience that understanding α and β cell deregulation in diabetes is crucial for the development of better diabetes treatments and prevention strategies. Supporting this, Prof Thorens presented results from his cell physiological investigations on islet cells and how nutrient-gene interactions control pancreatic islet cell mass, which move the field to the next level. Prof Thorens’ approach to understanding the regulation of α and β cells uses a systems biology approach that combines genetic, genomic and physiological studies.

LKCMedicine Guest Lecture on post-operative recovery monitoring
On 23 May 2014, Exeter University Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry Andrew Shaw delivered a lecture titled Acute Personalised Recovery Pathways for Monitoring Patient Recovery Post-Operatively, at LKCMedicine’s Proteos facilities at Biopolis. His talk focused on post-operation recovery, delving into the acute phase response following a surgical trauma and the subsequent recovery process, which together define a personalised physiological recovery. He talked about his cohort study of 45 patients and the use of physiological parameters such as the C-reactive protein marker and physiological conditions to predict trajectory of recovery. At the end of the talk, he concluded that the departure from the personalised physiological pathway may be considered the onset of complications, while the differential activation of the complement cascade points to a rapid bacteraemia diagnosis for sepsis.

Innovations in Medicine Lecture by LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Research
On 2 June 2014, LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Research and Toh Kian Chui Distinguished Professor Philip Ingham FRS delivered an Innovation in Medicine Lecture, titled How the fruit fly transformed biomedical science, to LKCMedicine students and staff at the Novena campus. He highlighted the impact of developmental genetics on our understanding of animal development and how the field has transformed our knowledge of human biology and our understanding and treatment of human disease.

LKCMedicine Lecture on malaria
On 30 April 2014, more than 40 clinicians, clinician-scientists and scientists from Singapore healthcare and research institutions attended the LKCMedicine Lecture titled Translational research in malaria and other monkey business by LKCMedicine Infectious Diseases Assistant Professor Yeo Tsin Wen. After a brief overview of malaria and the current treatment options, Asst Prof Yeo talked about the findings of some of his studies. Malaria is the most serious parasitic disease worldwide and infected an estimated 216 million people in 2010. While the death rate has been reduced with a new therapy, mortality from severe forms of the disease remains at more than 10 per cent. To tackle this, Asst Prof Yeo's research focuses on identifying adjuvant therapies which manipulate the immune response to malaria. Another area of interest is Plasmodium knowlesi, a strain of malaria common in Southeast Asia, but previously often confused with other strains of the disease. After conducting retrospective and prospective studies in East Malaysia, Asst Prof Yeo and his team have characterised the strain's clinical presentation and progression, as well as improved diagnostic and treatment options.


LKCMedicine buys five age-simulation suits for Year Two students
In April 2014, LKCMedicine bought five age-simulation suits in preparation of its Year Two curriculum. The suits will be used to help students experience and understand how an elderly person experiences the world. The suit simulates age-related impairments, including clouded ocular lenses, a narrowing field of vision, high-frequency hearing loss, head mobility restrictions, joint stiffness, loss of strength and grip as well as reduced coordination skills. Inline with the School’s ethos, the suits will help to foster empathy for elderly patients in students.

Visit by Imperial’s Head of Undergraduate School of Medicine
Mr Martin Lupton, Head of Imperial’s Undergraduate School of Medicine, and Dr Maria Toro-Troconis, Imperial’s E-learning Strategy & Development Manager visited LKCMedicine on 20 and 21 May 2014. The visitors discussed the technology enabled curriculum, Team-Based Learning (TBL), admissions, student life and feedback with the LKCMedicine team. The second day of their visit saw them on a whirlwind tour of LKCMedicine’s Family Medicine Academy and Research Techno Plaza, where the visitors got a flavour of the different types of practicals in the curriculum, before they returned to the Novena campus to round off their visit with meetings and discussions with the education faculty and the E-Learning and IT team.


Institute for Sports Research and Loughborough University explores possible synergy with LKCMedicine
Following the visit by Loughborough University School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences Dean Professor Mark Lewis to LKCMedicine in April, LKCMedicine senior management and key research faculty met with the Institute of Sports Research (ISR). ISR is an international collaboration between NTU and Loughborough University. ISR Executive Director Pascal Joubert des Ouches and R&D Programme Director Jason McLaren discussed areas of synergy and possible partnerships with the LKCMedicine team. During the discussion, initial areas of common interest which surfaced were skin and nutrition research, muscle development, and soft physical activity related to healthy ageing, to be followed up with the identification and scoping of possible joint projects.

Visit by Eindhoven University of Technology
Twenty-three students and three faculty members from the Eindhoven University of Technology’s Biomedical Engineering Faculty visited LKCMedicine on 15 April 2014 as part of a two-week study tour of Malaysia and Singapore. After an overview of the School’s innovative MBBS programme, the group had a one-hour hands-on TBL session which they gamely participated in. This was followed by a tour of the labs and a demo of the Anatomage table and plastinated specimens. The visit ended with a small reception at the rooftop terrace hosted by nine LKCMedicine students. The group had earlier been on a visit to NTU’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. 

River Valley High School visits LKCMedicine
On 30 April 2014, the Seminar Room at LKCMedicine hosted a TBL session of a different kind, with 23 teachers from River Valley High School donning student hats. After an introduction to the School’s innovative curriculum as well as the teaching approach and technologies LKCMedicine has adopted. The group then had a customised hands-on TBL session. A lively discussion ensued about the merits and possible implementation of such a system in a secondary school, with the River Valley High School team departing with valuable insights into the mechanics of turning standard lectures into TBL format.

Visit by University of Northampton to LKCMedicine
Two senior education specialists from the University of Northampton visited LKCMedicine on 14 and 15 May 2014, to learn more about the School’s innovative teaching framework. The visitors learned about the curriculum, the School’s adoption of Team-Based Learning (TBL) and how technology is being leveraged to enhance the learning process. The LKCMedicine team also highlighted the School’s multi-channel feedback system, admissions process and student life. Their visit to the Novena campus was rounded off with a tour of the heritage building and annex. On the second day, the visitors had the chance to observe a sample teaching session in action at the Family Medicine Academy at Bukit Batok, observing a medical language integrated clinical practical. The visitors left filled with exciting new ideas that they hope to apply at the University of Northampton.

 

Dover Park Hospice volunteer training for LKCMedicine students
On 16 May 2014, 15 students took part in a full-day training session in Basic Palliative Care to enable them to volunteer at neighbouring Dover Park Hospice. The shortened training session was tailored to the students’ existing skills and knowledge. The students were introduced to the concept of palliative care, the process of dying and grieving, as well as an awareness of the need for self-care when working with end-of-life patients. They also had a chance to practise feeding, operating an electronic bed and wheelchair, as well as a tour of the hospice. All volunteer groups at the hospice are named after a gemstone and this group of students will form Tanzanite, a new group led by Dr Tanya Tierney, Assistant Dean, Clinical Communication Training & Student Welfare. The students have expressed interest in volunteering activities such as befriending patients, pet therapy, massage and music, thus strengthening the relationship between LKCMedicine and its neighbour.

Final leg of the Inter-House Challenge Trophy 2014
On 28 April 2014, students and their House Tutors competed in the final event of the Inter-House Challenge Trophy of this academic year – the Easter Quiz and games, which had been compiled by Professor Martyn Partridge, LKCMedicine’s past Senior Vice-Dean. The event was fun-filled but competitive, with only a few points separating the five Houses. At the end, Marie Curie House was the quickest at getting coins out of tights and emerged the winner. These scores will now be combined with the other House events and the overall winner of the House Challenge Trophy will be declared at the student Dinner & Dance.

 

LKCMedicine in the news
LKCMedicine made the news with its restored heritage headquarters building at the Novena Campus. On 3 May 2014 The Straits Times’ Life! featured a full-page article on the building and the School’s expansion plans at Novena.

On 6 and 14 May 2014, LKCMedicine Infectious Diseases Professor Annelies Wilder-Smith appeared on Channel NewsAsia primetime news to provide her expert insights on issues ranging from the growing spread of polio and the growing threat posed by the novel MERS-CoV virus in the Middle East.

The School’s experts were also called on to comment on topical issues from the government’s budget announcement to the future role of technology in healthcare. Assistant Dean for Integrated Care Associate Professor Chin Jing Jih was interviewed by Chinese-language Channel 8 on the Pioneer Package and its implications for the healthcare sector on 9 March 2014.

On 21 March 2014, Assistant Dean for Family Medicine Associate Professor Wong Teck Yee shared his insights on how technology can help address some of the growing needs of the healthcare population with MyPaper after Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong suggested that technology could be used to improve the delivery of healthcare.