Under the gazes of Duke University’s past presidents, the current office holder Professor Vincent E Price and the National University of Singapore (NUS) President Professor Tan Eng Chye reaffirmed their institutions’ commitment to the Duke-NUS Medical School partnership at a ceremony held on Thursday, 13 October 2022. Along with Duke University Chancellor for Health Affairs Professor Eugene Washington, they signed the agreement for the fourth phase of Duke-NUS before it was acknowledged and supported by the School’s Governing Board Chairman Mr Goh Yew Lin. This was marked the fourth phase of the partnership but it was the first time that the signing took place at Duke in North Carolina.
Before the agreement was inked, Duke-NUS Dean Professor Thomas Coffman welcomed the audience present in the Allen Boardroom as well as well-wishers from the School and the Ministries of Education and Health who joined the ceremony virtually.
He acknowledged the symbolism of holding the ceremony at Duke “to really emphasise the important and the durability of the partnership” and thanked members of the ministries as well as his leadership team and the management of the two universities who worked tirelessly on this agreement.
“This agreement really highlights the success of the Duke-NUS project,” said Coffman, “that a small research-intensive, American-style graduate-entry medical school can really thrive in Singapore and contribute and add value to medical education, research, academic medicine both locally and globally.”
Prof Thomas Coffman talks about the effort and commitment that has made Duke-NUS a success at the phase IV signing ceremony // Credit: Chris Hildreth/Rooster Media
Since its inception in 2005, Duke-NUS has played an important role in training competent clinicians and clinician-scientists by bringing together students from diverse backgrounds to support the national pipeline of clinician-scientists and expert clinicians who are poised to take on leadership roles in the health and biomedical sciences ecosystem.
Combined with the School’s achievements in research and innovation, the Duke-NUS enterprise has become one of Duke’s most successful global ventures.
“Duke-NUS has, I believe, transformed medical education in Singapore and been an example for excellence around the globe”
Professor Vincent E Price
Reflecting on the founding principle that underpins the Duke-NUS enterprise, Duke President Professor Vincent Price said: “We are deeply committed to purposeful partnerships and we recognise that by engaging with extraordinary partners, like the National University of Singapore and SingHealth—and all the partners that make this kind of enterprise what it is—we can elevate the scope and the reach of what we can accomplish. That is the power of a true partnership.”
“From our innovative degree programmes which have shaped not just our work in Singapore but our work here at Duke University as well to our multi-disciplinary research institutes to emerging translational research, Duke-NUS has, I believe, transformed medical education in Singapore and been an example for excellence around the globe,” added Price, who highlighted that this experience has enriched Duke, broadening the university’s expertise through the exchange of knowledge and local insights.
Commemorating the signing of Phase IV agreement are (L-R): Prof Edward Buckley, Duke-NUS Governing Board member and Vice Dean for Education, Duke University School of Medicine; Prof Vincent Price; Prof Thomas Coffman; Mr Goh Yew Lin; Prof Tan Eng Chye; and Prof Eugene Washington // Credit: Chris Hildreth/Rooster Media
Affirming their shared perspective, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye agreed that the partnership’s accomplishments have been stellar.
“Today, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre is really a flourishing part of academic medicine and a vital part of Singapore’s biomedical ecosystem, enabling Duke-NUS to really make a distinct impact”
Professor Tan Eng Chye
“We have come a long way since 2005—even slightly before that—when we first met to establish Duke-NUS,” noted Tan. “With the strong support of the Singapore’s government and a like-minded partner in Duke University, our collaboration has continued to evolve steadily, growing in strength and scale.”
From nurturing clinicians who are also scientists, educators and innovators ready to tackle tomorrow’s healthcare problems to joining forces with SingHealth to transform the campus into an academic medical centre, Tan noted that Duke-NUS has been a trailblazer.
“Today, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre is really a flourishing part of academic medicine and a vital part of Singapore’s biomedical ecosystem, enabling Duke-NUS to really make a distinct impact through innovative translational research and strategic initiatives in academic medicine,” said Tan, adding that the importance of the School’s work to public health and society was further brought to bear during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duke University Chancellor for Health Affairs Professor Eugene Washington, who also leads the Duke University Health System, expanded on Tan’s remarks by defining how the success of the partnership is measured: through the outcomes from its innovative, relevant and forward-looking programmes known for their excellence and the actions of the School’s graduates.
“When they care for people using the skills, teamwork and critical decision-making abilities that they have learned and honed at Duke-NUS; when they conduct research and transform the way we think about disease or how we approach some critical biomedical conundrum; or when they improve the lives they touched in academia, corporate settings or in governments—we consider all these as measures of success,” declared Washington.
Before the agreement was signed, Duke-NUS Governing Board Chairman Mr Goh Yew Lin addressed the assembled Duke-NUS supporters, noting that it is the true partnership between Duke, NUS and SingHealth that has enabled the School to succeed. But that is not the only reason for the School’s success.
Goh added: “Duke-NUS partners with all these institutions but also builds partnerships with NTU, A*STAR and right across the other parties in Singapore because we’re trying to advance both the practice of medicine but also the establishment of a strong biomedical industry through the innovation and commercialisation of science.”