Published: June 28, 2011
Updated: June 28, 2011
The opening of Duke-NUS has opened up new opportunities for researchers in both Durham and Singapore to advance biomedical science on a global scale.
Nearly a third of Duke-NUS faculty hold joint appointments at Duke, and many other Duke faculty have taken advantage of the rich possibilities for collaboration with scientists on the other side of the world.
“Singapore is an appealing place to conduct research,” says Patrick Casey, PhD, senior vice dean for research at Duke-NUS.
“The country has made a tremendous investment in biomedical science, which has attracted top researchers internationally and provided opportunities to access unique technologies, such as a chronobiology suite for sleep research that’s one of the few of its kind in the world. Singapore also offers access to a well-annotated patient population with different ethnicities and lifestyles than in North Carolina, so it’s a great place to conduct comparative clinical studies.”
Among the dozens of Duke-Singapore collaborations to date include research focused on:
Dengue fever: A team of researchers at Duke and Duke-NUS led by Mariano Garcia-Blanco, MD, PhD, used gene silencing technologies to identify dozens of proteins the dengue fever virus relies on identifying promising new targets to develop antiviral drugs for the devastating mosquito-borne disease.
Dengue has been one of the first major research concentrations of Duke-NUS; the school’s program in infectious diseases is led by Duane Gubler, ScD, considered the world’s foremost expert on dengue fever.
Metabolic disorders: Duke-NUS’s Scott Summers, PhD, is studying how a type of lipids called ceramides contributes to the development of insulin resistance and diabetes, working with Christopher Newgard, PhD, of Duke’s Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center
Parkinson’s disease: Tso-Pang Yao, PhD, of Duke’s Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, and Kah Leong Lim, PhD, of Duke-NUS and Singapore’s National Neuroscience Institute, have elucidated the role of certain disease-causing mutations in the Parkin gene -- contributing to understanding of the causes of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease.
Aging: Researchers Angelique Chan, PhD, of Duke-NUS and Truls Ostbye, MD, PhD, have conducted population-based and longitudinal studies related to the care and well-being of the elderly in Singapore, one of the most rapidly aging countries in Asia.
Sleep deprivation: Neuroscientists led by Michael Chee, MD, of Duke-NUS and Scott Huettel, PhD, of Duke’s Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Science found that sleep deprivation can alter strategic preferences in risky decision-making -- increasing sensitivity to gains while decreasing sensitivity to losses.
These global collaborations are just a start; over the past year, Duke and Duke-NUS have hosted a series of symposia that bring faculty from Duke and Singapore together to discuss shared research interests and generate ideas for joint projects in areas from heart disease to health services research.
In addition, more than 50 Duke and Duke-NUS faculty have joined a new Duke Cardiovascular Research Center established to advance global basic research objectives. The center is led by Thomas Coffman, MD, chief of Duke’s division of nephrology, who also directs Duke-NUS’s Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders research program.
“The ties between Duke and Singapore provide a unique opportunity to bridge researchers who are literally a half world apart,” he says. “We hope to create an environment that amplifies the quantity and quality of research across both campuses.”
See page 12 of the Summer 2011 issue of DukeMed Magazine (PDF, 5 MB) to learn more about the graduates of the Duke-NUS class of 2011.