Banner Image for The Duke-NUS Story

The Duke-NUS Story

Bringing graduate medical education to Singapore


The idea for a graduate medical school first emerged in 2001 from the recommendations of a medical education review panel, chaired by Lord Ronald Oxburgh and commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Singapore.

The panel recommended that Singapore establish a graduate-entry medical school on the Singapore General Hospital campus to train clinicians in research to meet the needs of the healthcare and biomedical industry, an industry that had just embarked on a transformation.

Through the biomedical sciences initiative, launched in 2000, the Singapore government sought to turn the nation into a biomedical hub for Asia, attracting research and health sector manufacturing capabilities as well as world-class scientific talent.

Setting up a research-intensive new medical school would play a key role in nurturing a new kind of clinician who not only excelled in their clinical care but could also improve care through research.


Duke University, with its world-class, research-intensive medical curriculum, soon emerged as the perfect partner for this new venture. In 2003, Duke signed a memorandum of understanding with the National University of Singapore, which was formalised two years later.

And so, on 14 April 2005, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, as Duke-NUS was known then, was born.

Under the collaboration agreement, the Singapore government—initially through the Ministry of EducationMinistry of Health and Ministry of Trade and Industry—contributed significant investment for the first seven years to establish Duke-NUS as part of Singapore’s strategy to become a leading centre for medical research and education.

Complementing NUS’ existing undergraduate medical school, Duke-NUS would help to boost Singapore’s efforts in translational medicine, particularly in fields that were—and remain—relevant to the population and those in the wider Asian region. The Duke-NUS curriculum was, therefore, specially formulated to develop an exceptional pool of leaders and creative thinks who would push the boundaries of medicine and enhance medical research, education and patient care. It would be taught using an innovative flipped-classroom teaching approach called TeamLEAD.

In August 2005, 26 students joined Duke-NUS, the first ones to embark on the School’s four-year Doctor of Medicine (MD) programme.

On 17 January 2007, the Estate of Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat announced a gift of S$80 million to Duke-NUS to support ground-breaking research across the School’s Signature Research Programmes.

At the same time, Duke-NUS announced that MD programme graduates would be awarded joint degrees from both Duke and NUS, following the earlier-than-planned approval from the Duke University Board of Trustees. This joint degree would be awarded for the first time at the Graduation and Hooding Ceremony for the Class of 2011 on 28 May 2011.

On 30 November 2010, following Duke-NUS’ exceptionally strong performance during its first phase, the government signalled its resounding support by extending the Duke and NUS strategic collaboration by a further five years. Subsequently, on 2 June 2016, the stakeholders extended this collaboration through another five-year agreement.

During this third phase of the agreement, the medical school and SingHealth transformed the campus at Outram into an Academic Medical Centre.

On 13 October 2020, the fourth phase, which officially extended this flourishing collaboration for another five years, was signed by the presidents of Duke-NUS’ two parent universities at a ceremony held in Durham, North Carolina.

The signing was subsequently celebrated in Singapore. The Milestone Celebration, held on 21 November 2022, was attended by Guests-of-Honour Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing and Minister for Education Mr Ong Ye Kung.

Duke-NUS old campus
Class of 2026
phase 3 signing
AMC bridge
Duke and NUS sign the fourth phase agreement for Duke-NUS