Let hope and action lead the way to a better 2022


Here we are, with another year almost behind us. Battered by a pandemic, the likes of which no one from our multiple generations has experienced in their lifetime. At the beginning of 2021, we seem to have emerged from it, only to be cooped up again, sometimes more, sometimes less tightly. Baffled, provoked, angry, raging, helpless… We have felt a plethora of emotions and yet here we are ready to take on 2022, fortified with the most precious of human qualities: resilience, perseverance and the biggest of them all—hope.  

Hope, combined with effort, always pulls us up. And so, we turn, in this last issue of 2021, to how through our actions—big or small—we have tried to make the world a little better, a little kinder and to improve lives. In a poignant study, we found that loneliness cuts life expectancy and quality of life in older adults who feel lonely compared with those who don’t.  

Mental wellbeing and health have always been stigmatised, but we are learning to accept the importance of these and have started making efforts all round to take care for our loved ones and colleagues around the world. On World Mental Health Day, Tazeen H Jafar moderated a Yale-NUS-organised panel, steering the dialogue to address important questions of mental health in different areas of our society, including policies and economics. If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us that we must do more in this area.  

Continuing our efforts to improve lives, in our main feature story, we’re retracing the journey that brought David Virshup, a professor and director of the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Signature Research Programme at Duke-NUS, to Singapore and how he ended up playing an instrumental role in developing the first made-in-Singapore cancer drug. The drug, ETC-159, is now being tested in cancer patients. 

Almost as an embodiment of our subtheme for this issue, Kai Nargolwala, our former Governing Board Chairman, talks to us about his values and the spirit of giving. And let’s remember that it is the act of giving not the amount that truly counts. Even small contributions add up—so what are we waiting for?! As the year nears its end and we look to 2022, let’s pledge to give a little more and take a little less. The planet will thank us too! 

In our In Conversation With column, we hear from Leo Yee Sin, the executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, about how we can pay it forward and support one another in this ongoing battle against SARS-CoV-2.  

We take a virtual trip with the team from the Laboratory of Virus Evolution as they tell us in MEDICUS–the Podcast about their work on genomic surveillance in bats and small mammals—work that has brought them around the region. That is until the pandemic closed borders. But it is precisely the sort of work that will see humanity better prepared against the next pandemic. 

And we got our scientists and experts to weigh in your most burning questions in our Ask MEDICUS column. From brain injuries and stem cell therapies to how to pick yourself up after failure, our experts share their insights and advice. 

And of course, there is plenty more to browse in the rest of the issue, which includes our latest research and people news. 

I welcome you to this issue of MEDICUS and hope that you will enjoy reading and learning from these stories. Let us know what you would like to read more about from Duke-NUS and if we can, we will bring those stories to you. 

Looking forward to transforming medicine and improving lives with you for the world. 


Anirudh Sharma

Anirudh Sharma

Nicole Lim

Writers and contributors
Audrey Khoo
Chua Li Min
Dionne Seah
Drima Chakraborty
Jessie Chew
Nicole Lim

Editorial Committee
Christopher Laing, Duke-NUS 
Foo Suan Jong, Duke-NUS 
Jenne Foo, Duke-NUS 
Jenny Ang Thar Bin, SingHealth 
Michael Schoenfeld, Duke University 
Ovidia Lim-Rajaram, National University of Singapore 
Patrick Casey, Duke-NUS 
Reza Shah Bin Mohd Anwar, Duke-NUS 
Sandy Cook, Duke-NUS

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