Voices @ Research: Administration - The Backbone of Research
Assistant Manager Goh Hui Lin has over five years of experience as a research administrator. In our latest contribution to Voices, read more about the joys and challenges of a career in research administration, how the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC has progressed since its conceptualisation over the years and what the future of research administration entails for our SingHealth community as we progress towards greater initiatives.
Cracking Open the Durian’s DNA
A team of researchers from National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and Duke-NUS Medical School have deciphered the complete genetic map of durian - a prized tropical fruit delicacy known in Asia as the “king of fruits”. The team’s efforts were driven by both innate scientific curiosity and a love of the fruit. Their research was done on a particular durian variety of Durio zibethenus - the only durian species sold commercially - called Musang King (Mao Shan Wang in Chinese) and found that a durian has some 46,000 genes, double that of humans. The team hopes that its effort will pave the way for researchers to create new durian species that are drought-resistant or low-sugar varieties suitable for diabetics, for instance.
New Drug to Aid in Cholesterol Fight
International clinical trials, which involved researchers from Singapore, have found that a new drug alirocumab was effective in reducing cholesterol in people when statins (a typically prescribed drug) alone could not do the job. The study involved 29,000 people from 58 countries. The new drug was approved by the Health Sciences Authority in April, and is estimated to reach public hospitals within the year. Besides being prescribed as a complement to statins, alirocumab can also be given as an alternative to the cholesterol-busting drug. “This is for those who are already on the maximum amounts of statins that they can tolerate”, Adjunct Assistant Prof Jack Tan, Deputy Head, Cardiology Department, National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS).
Apps Sets Sights on Addressing Myopia in Kids
Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) – Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC)’s Ophthalmic Technologies Incubator Programme has released a new app, named Plano, which can be used to keep track of a child’s smart device use and usage habits to address the alarming rise in myopia among the young. Assoc Prof Audrey Chia, Head and Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Department, SNEC said: “Based on our knowledge of near work and myopia, we are suggesting to parents to limit time on handheld devices, to (remind children to) take eye breaks and to encourage children to go outdoors and play.”
Lupus Patients at Higher Risk of Contracting Tuberculosis
Researchers from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) have discovered that patients with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks normal, healthy tissue, have a higher risk of contracting tuberculosis. The SGH study based on 301,000 inpatients also found that the risk doubles if these patients have chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Numerous studies overseas have associated lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, with an increased risk of contracting TB, but little had been known about the extent and possible risk factors of TB among lupus patients in Singapore, said Professor Julian Thumboo, Senior Consultant, Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, SGH.
New Clinical Trials to Treat Ovarian Cancer, the “Silent Killer”
Scientists at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) are embarking on a clinical trial to test immunotherapy for advanced and recurrent ovarian cancer. This new treatment, which harnesses the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer, combines two immunotherapy cancer drugs into a single treatment and is considered to be less toxic than chemotherapy. Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Singapore women, and is the second most common gynaecological cancer among women in Singapore. Phase I and II of the clinical trial will test the safety and effectiveness of the combined treatment in 20 patients with ovarian cancer. These two phases, run concurrently, started in May.