Friday, 17 Sep, 2021
Opening of the 6th SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress
Delegates from Singapore and around the world convened on 17 September 2021 for the sixth SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress, which was hosted virtually for the first time since its inception. Organised by the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Centre, this year’s conference focused on “Revolutionising Medicine—The New Frontier”.
The virtual congress was graced by Guest-of-Honour Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat, who was joined by special guests Mr Cheng Wai Keung, Chairman of SingHealth, Mr Goh Yew Lin, Chairman of Duke-NUS, Professor Ivy Ng, Group CEO of SingHealth, and Professor Thomas Coffman, Dean of Duke-NUS.
First to address the audience of thought leaders, healthcare professionals, academics and researchers was SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress co-chair, Associate Professor Aaron Wong. Assoc Prof Wong elaborated on this year’s theme, highlighting the exciting line-up of 170 local and international speakers who will discuss the latest advances in medicine, such as digital health, precision medicine and immunotherapy.
One highlight of the congress has always been the award ceremony, which despite the virtual format, will continue to be a key feature with an expanded set of categories open to participants. Assoc Prof Wong introduced two new award categories this year: the most popular abstract poster and most popular oral presentation, urging delegates to show their support by casting their votes.
Assoc Prof Wong then invited DPM Heng Swee Keat to take the stage to deliver the opening address.
In his opening address, DPM Heng spoke about the pivotal role of the congress in providing a platform for the healthcare and scientific community to exchange ideas and forge collaborations.
Referring to COVID-19 as “one of the greatest challenges that modern medicine has ever faced”, DPM Heng took the opportunity to recognise the contributions made by the scientific community in Singapore, citing the development of kits such as cPassTM and Singapore’s participation in the GISAID Initiative.
“COVID-19 has shown us what can be achieved when there is a concerted and determined global effort to tackle a serious public health issue,” said DPM Heng. “The acute phase of this pandemic will eventually fade. But there are many, other long-term healthcare challenges that will not,” he cautioned before outlining three approaches for tackling these challenges: going upstream to make interventions earlier, being more precise in our interventions and harnessing ideas across different domains for future innovations.
DPM Heng also applauded the efforts of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Centre to continue revolutionising medicine with the launch of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Biodiversity Medicine (BD-MED) in conjunction with the congress.
“Let us channel the ‘can-do’ spirit that COVID-19 has sparked within the scientific community, to tackle our longer-term structural challenges,” said DPM Heng, as he declared the congress open.
After the rousing speech by DPM Heng, a video introducing the BD-MED Institute aired. Building on the strength of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Centre in basic science, clinical and translational research, the BD-MED Institute aims to promote human health and wellness by focusing on three key research programmes.
The three research programmes will focus on Herbal Biodiversity and Medicine, Food Biodiversity and Nutrition and the Urban Biodiversity and Wellness.
Following the video, DPM Heng, Mr Cheng, Mr Goh, Prof Ng, Prof Coffman and director of the BD-MED Institute, Professor Teh Bin Tean were invited onscreen to witness the virtual launch of the BD-MED Institute.
The newly launched institute is supported by a generous gift of $5 million from the Verdant Foundation, whose Chairman, Mr Vincent Cheng, conveyed his hopes and well wishes for the BD-MED Institute via video message. Mr Cheng was then invited to take a group photo with DPM Heng, and leaders from SingHealth and Duke-NUS onscreen.
Before the opening ceremony drew to a close, the audience heard from keynote speaker, Director of the Duke Centre for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine, Dr Geoffrey Ginsburg, on the local and global opportunities in precision medicine, culminating in an interactive question-and-answer session hosted by co-chair of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress, Associate Professor Ong Sin Tiong.