AMC: The way forward

As the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) marks its 10th anniversary, new developments are underway to make greater impact in the areas of research and patient care.

With a focus on finding synergy in collective clinical and research strengths, the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC has created a vibrant nexus to drive new discoveries in medicine and patient care. Underscoring this drive are three research institutes that cut across both institutions. They are the National Neuroscience Research Institute Singapore (NNRIS), the National Heart Research Institute Singapore (NHRIS) and the recently announced Health Services Research Institute (HSRI), all of which have made strides in critical areas in Singapore’s healthcare landscape.

The SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre has created a vibrant nexus
The SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre have created a vibrant nexus
National Neuroscience Research Institute Singapore

To address the treatment and diagnosis of brain and nervous system disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia, the NNRIS is led by Professor Tan Eng King, Deputy Director of the Duke-NUS Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders Programme and Research Director of the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI). The institute brings together more than 200 neurologists, neuroscientists, and research professionals from NNI and Duke-NUS. It will consolidate expertise from the two organisations, integrate research resources and develop a new research facility for neurobehavioural experiments for a more targeted approach to neurological research in Singapore. Already, NNRIS is facilitating a joint study by neuroimaging and genetics researchers from NNI and Duke-NUS that explores a combination of both structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to study gene expression in dementia.

National Heart Research Institute Singapore

The NHRIS dovetails the research of the Duke-NUS Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders (CVMD) Programme and the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) to attain a vision of being a premier regional centre for cardiovascular research that drives excellences in patient care. It is led by CVMD Programme head, Professor Stuart Cook, who is also the Tanoto Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Senior Consultant at NHCS. The institute’s research focus on Asian populations will help promote a better understanding of the underlying genetic basis and pattern of disease in Singaporeans. Significantly, it will deploy a proportion of the S$3 million gift from the Tanoto Foundation towards genetics and stem cell research. The work will include identifying new ways of diagnosing, classifying, testing and treating patients who are genetically pre-disposed to cardiovascular diseases.

Health Services Research Institute

As the population in Singapore ages, the demand for healthcare services is both increasing and evolving. Hospitals and specialty centres must deal with expanding visit volume, growing patient expectations, rising complexity due to both health and social problems, and delivering quality care at a reasonable cost. Recognising this challenge, SingHealth and Duke-NUS leadership developed the Health Services Research Institute (HSRI) to promote state-of-the-science health services research (HSR) in the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC.

The newly established institute is jointly headed by Professor David Matchar, Director of the Duke-NUS Health Services and Systems Research Programme, and Professor Julian Thumboo, Director of the SingHealth Health Services Research Centre and Senior Consultant, Department of Rheumatology and Immunology. HSRI seeks to provide leadership and strategic direction for SingHealth and Duke-NUS. In addition, it will coordinate and synergise existing HSR capabilities in SingHealth and Duke-NUS, and be a single contact point for external agencies.

HSRI will establish three initiatives under the strategic focus area of ageing. One is the Health Engagement and Action Labs (HEALs). HEALs are pragmatic research labs and “test-beds” for understanding the health service needs of the SingHealth population, and evaluating innovative approaches to address them. The second initiative is to promote a collaborative effort to create highly efficient research informatics capabilities. HSRI’s third initiative is to work with the Academic Medicine Research Institute to nurture clinicians committed to careers in HSR. It will draw on the deep academic expertise and clinical experience, operational scale and robust resources from both SingHealth and Duke-NUS to integrate cutting-edge HSR into the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC. The goal is to optimise health at the individual, systems and population levels for today and in the future.