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Tomorrow ’s

MEDICINE The voice of academic medicine

MICA (P) 143/07/2013

ISSUE 5, january 2014

A publication of the SingHealth Academic Healthcare Cluster

Building up to age-friendliness Polyclinics at Geylang and Tampines make elderly patients’ visits safer and more comfortable

SingHealth Research Grant Calendar 2014 inside

NCCS and Duke-NUS researchers join the big league


research team led by Professor Teh Bin Tean, Professor Patrick Tan and Associate Professor Steven Rozen from NCCS and Duke-NUS has conducted the first successful comprehensive genomic study of bile duct cancer. The study was done with collaborators in Thailand and Romania.

Enhanced features for elderly patients include eye-catching handrails with better grip and allocated seats in waiting areas


f the more than 1.5 million patients our polyclinics see each year, there is an increasing number of elderly patients. They now account for up to 30 per cent of patients who visit our polyclinics and 50 per cent of SingHealth’s total patient visit. The surge in this patient demography motivated SingHealth Polyclinics to implement a series of age-friendly features to improve patient’s experience. The transformation began at the Geylang Polyclinic which reopened in May last year, followed by Tampines Polyclinic which reopened last November. Construction was going to take up to five months, so the plan began with building a temporary clinic next to Geylang Polyclinic to handle the patient load. Geylang and Tampines Polyclinics underwent major renovations incorporating the SingHealth Age-Friendly Infrastructure Design Guide’s 10-Point Plan - with the objective of giving their elderly patients a safer and more pleasant experience.

The 10-Point Plan identifies ten interaction points in patients’ visit and provides guidelines to ensure optimal comfort and age-sensitivity.

“Our patients have told us that they love the open concept,” she says. “We tried to look at every detail, even creating a green enclave to enhance the healing environment.”

Staff of the two polyclinics were actively involved in the planning of the new features, giving their feedback on what should be improved. Prototypes were also built on their initiative and tested for their effectiveness before they were implemented.

Accessibility at the Tampines Polyclinic was also greatly improved. Markus Ng, Assistant Manager of Clinic Operations at the Polyclinic said, “We have created an enhanced ambience with expanded areas for patients to wait and move around the polyclinic in cool comfort. The new configuration and layout provides easier access for patients and improves operational efficiency.”

Key features that have been adopted by the two polyclinics included ramps and low counters at service areas for wheelchair access, handrails along main corridors, large visual guides and bigger font sizes on signages, intuitive layout and organisation of rooms, and wider door-less entry to toilets. Gladys Yap, Assistant Manager of Clinic Operations at Geylang Polyclinic, who was actively involved in the redevelopment project said that the refreshed polyclinic includes the addition of more glass panels to bring in natural light. As a result, the refreshed polyclinic looks brighter and more spacious.

The SingHealth 10-Point Plan guides the development of agefriendly features at 10 interaction points during a patient’s visit 10. At Exit

9. Common Areas

1. Approach & Access to Building

Geylang and Tampines Polyclinics underwent major renovations with the objective of giving their elderly patients a safe and pleasant experience. Continued on page 3

2. Drop-off Point

3. Entrance

a. Inpatient

7. Consultation Rooms

6. Consultation Room/ Waiting Area

Published in Nature Genetics, the groundbreaking work has caught the attention of major research conglomerate, the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), which invited the researchers to join its network. The ICGC, similar to the Human Genome Project, aims to map the entire genome of the 50 most significant cancers. While the consortium has seen participation from researchers based in the US, EU, Japan and China, this is the first time Singapore has been invited to such a large-scale project.

Being associated with the ICGC gives us a degree of firepower that is beyond the scope of one place. – Prof Patrick Tan, Cancer & Stem Cell Biology Program, Duke-NUS

b. A&E

8. Pharmacy Counters

The team uncovered several genes frequently mutated in the cancer, some of which had not been implicated in bile duct cancer before. The team’s findings have clinical implications as they also suggest that the same cancer type from different parts of the world may require different treatment.

4. Main Directory/ Clarity Wall 5. Registration/ Payment Counters

With access to the resource-rich ICGC network, the Singapore team is looking to tap on a wider base of samples to characterise the mutational landscape of bile duct cancers from different parts of the world. As the ICGC also provides a standardised platform for comparisons across multiple cancer types, the team is confident that their research will be taken to the next level. Prof Tan said, “Being associated with the ICGC gives us a degree of firepower that is beyond the scope of one place. In this age of big data, we now have access to samples and expertise that will allow us to reach new and more robust conclusions.” So far, the team has sequenced one per cent of the bile duct cancer genome, with another 99 per cent to go in the quest towards unravelling the ways in which this cancer works.


Tomorrow’s Medicine - ISSUE 5, JANUARY 2014

A truly patient-centred care model JANUARY 2014

By Prof Fong Kok Yong Group Director, Medical, SingHealth Chairman, Medical Board, SGH Senior Consultant, Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, SGH


Editors-In-Chief Tan-Huang Shuo Mei

ith a rapidly ageing population and the rising burden of chronic diseases, the healthcare needs of today’s patients are changing. In turn, hospitals are challenged to make the move from a hospital-based or organisation-centric model to one that puts patients right at the centre.

Audrey Lau Editors

Jennifer Wee Arthur Wong Stephanie Jade Joint Editorial team

Goh Sai Luan (SGH) sub-editor Ichha Oberoi (KKH) sub-editor Eric Lim Wei (SHP) sub-editor Edwin Yong (NCCS) Caroline Chia (NDCS) Jessica Koh (NHCS) Christina Valerie Wee (NNI) Dr Thiyagarajan Jayabaskar (SNEC) Wee Lai Ming (Duke-NUS)

Our current system is focused on being a hospital, and we do a decent job. However, to service our patients and their changing needs better, we have to reorganise the system from their perspective – to see what is logical for the patient. Some indicators that change is needed? Currently, patients have to undergo multiple time-consuming queues from registration to appointment to medication collection. Until recently, wheelchairs could not be shared across the different institutions. Thankfully, the latter system has since been improved to allow patients to borrow and return wheelchairs across the entire campus. There is nothing worse than seeing an angry, frustrated patient – it is not a nice feeling. When patients benefit from a seamless process, the whole working environment improves. Making the shift towards a more patient-centred model of care will thus ensure our patients experience a smoother and more seamless journey.


Redstone Communications Copywriting

Hedgehog Communications Members of the SingHealth Academic Healthcare Cluster

Singapore General Hospital (SGH) KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP) Bright Vision Hospital (BVH) Sengkang Health (SKH)

Partner in Academic Medicine

Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore (Duke-NUS)

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The integrated SGH LIFE Centre for lifestyle-related conditions, the future NCCS Proton Therapy Centre and the SGH Transplant Centre are examples where healthcare professionals from multiple disciplines are mobilised to where the patient is, providing greater convenience and more personalised care. They show how we can better work to transform our patients’ experience. To further enhance this experience, there is the need for a new category of jobs – patient navigators – whose aim is to help patients navigate the system through the entire care continuum.

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Leveraging on IT will also be an important component. For example, clinical documentation will be shared across different clinical settings and between different healthcare providers. This will enable clinicians to gain a complete health report of every patient and help to standardise care. For patients with multiple doctors, this could mean less unnecessary blood tests and a lower risk of drug duplication.

There is nothing worse than seeing an angry, frustrated patient – it is not a nice feeling. When patients benefit from a seamless process, the whole working environment improves.

Eventually, patient-centricity is a vision that is worth replicating on a national scale. This transformation is an ongoing journey and no matter which part of the care spectrum we are from, our objectives fit together in patient-centred care. Of course, our staff will be the key factor in making our vision work. When we think about changing processes, they are the first thing that comes to mind because we can only be a world-class model with the help of all our staff.

SNEC nurses take the academic stage Ophthalmic nurses have much to share in transforming care on an international scale


urses at SNEC are now given clear pathways to progress and fulfil a number of new roles, especially with the formation of the Ophthalmology Academic Clinical Program. “We are building our training capabilities, identifying nurses who have passion in teaching and recruiting members of faculty to develop curricula and new educational programmes. This allows us to keep pace with the evolving healthcare landscape to provide seamless, standardised eye care across the nation,” said Ms Low Siew Ngim, Director of Nursing at SNEC. To support their advancement, SNEC will start recruiting ophthalmic assistants in 2014, allowing nurses to fulfil more clinical roles.

Monthly Paper

Especially beneficial to patients with multiple conditions as well as the elderly age group, patient navigators will ensure these patients have someone to take care of them at every stage of their journey with us.

Ms Low said, “Ophthalmic assistants will help to offload routine tasks from nurses, freeing their time to focus more on patient education and counselling as well as support their advancement as nurse educators or nurse researchers.” Already, nurses perform significant roles in public healthcare education, outreach humanitarian surgical programmes and research projects. For example, SNEC nurses have been working closely with the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) to conduct a cost utility study of glaucoma patients. Operating theatre nurses are also currently involved in a study that compares the efficacy of hand washing versus alcohol rub. Notably, Ms Low Huey Peng, an Assistant Director of Nursing at SNEC, was recently appointed as sub-editor of the International Journal of Ophthalmic Practice, opening the

We are building our training capabilities, identifying nurses who have passion in teaching and recruiting members of Faculty to develop curricula and new educational programmes. – Ms Low Siew Ngim, Director of Nursing, SNEC doors for SNEC nurses to make valuable contributions to an International journal and support the educational needs of the ophthalmic nursing fraternity.* Pushing the ACP nursing development, Ms Aw Ai Tee, also Assistant Director of Nursing at SNEC, has been meticulously researching the state of ophthalmic nurse training programmes around the world. Her findings will help the centre plug the gaps and position SNEC as a centre of training excellence. SNEC’s recent collaboration with the Agency of Integrated Care to conduct eye care training programmes for their staff further paves the way in this direction.

Topping it all off is Ms Low’s recent appointment as a council member of the International Ophthalmology Nursing Association. She feels that her appointment will further collaborations and benchmark best practices in Ophthalmic nursing practices among the world’s best. Ms Low shared that she intends to bring the association’s high-profile conference to Singapore within the next two years. “This will set the stage for nurses to share best practices with one another. Rather than reinvent the wheel, open-platform sharing and collaborations will accelerate our mutual progress towards better patient care.”

*”Singapore National Eye Centre: an ophthalmic nursing journey” was published in the International Journal of Ophthalmic Practice 4(5): Oct 2013

SingHealth Grant Calendar 2014


Grant Calendar 2014

Means to an end

With inspiration from grant recipients, key information on funding opportunities, timelines and research core platforms – all you need to get started on your research journey.

Research grant justification for lab space


By Karina Wong Jing-ya

r Andrea Kwa (right), a pharmacy clinician scientist and Assistant Director, Health Services Related Research Unit, Singapore General Hospital, broke new ground by becoming the first allied health professional to clinch a National Medical Research Council (NMRC) Transition Award (TA) last year. But her drive for applying for a TA stemmed from the simple need for laboratory space.

Researchers must know how to network, convince people of the value of their research and never give up. “Laboratory space is precious, important and much sought after. I realise that the Transition and Clinician Scientist Awards are platforms that will help create visibility for my work so I can achieve my goal of gaining the much needed lab space that I want,” said Dr Kwa, who wants to tackle “the glaring and urgent gaps in the research landscape for infectious diseases”. Building relationships in research Applying for the TA was challenging for Dr Kwa. Her application was subjected to rigorous scrutiny; she needed to find

supportive mentors, hold a faculty position and have a PhD. Her saviours were Professor John Rush, previous Vice Dean of Clinical Sciences, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, and Professor Wang Lin-fa, Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases programme at Duke-NUS, who helped to facilitate her application by offering a faculty position and countless networking opportunities. Prof Wang also became her mentor. “Being a researcher is all about building relationships. Researchers must know how to network, convince people of the value of their research and never give up,” Dr Kwa said. “And I will always be grateful to Professors Rush and Wang for the support they have provided.” Progressing in research Another barrier Dr Kwa had to overcome was that people not involved in research often have misconceptions and unrealistic expectations about a clinical researcher’s ability to manage research and clinical practice concurrently. Dr Kwa said that being patient when trying to convince people, including her bosses, of the value of her research, as well as showcasing her passion for saving lives through her work are strategies that enabled her to progress.

“People who usually succumb to infectious diseases are those who are already sick. I hope to first cure their acute illness so they have the option to go for further treatments for their existing illness,” said Dr Kwa. Human factors in research From her years of experience as a researcher, Dr Kwa recognises that to carry out meaningful research, you need an inquisitive mind and substantial clinical experience. Her advice to budding researchers? “Keep your eyes, ears and mind open during your clinical work. Be reliable and trustworthy, think beyond boundaries and network.”

Failure is the mother of success

Before attaining an NMRC TA, Dr Sng Ban Leong (right), Consultant, Department of Women’s Anaesthesia and Women’s Pain Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, had his fair share of rejections


By Karina Wong Jing-ya

r Sng, whose research interests are in chronic pain management and obstetric anaesthesia, realised that these setbacks contained valuable lessons and opportunities for growth. Here he shares what he has learnt.

How do you move on from a rejection? I think it is almost the same as failing A a school examination! When the initial disappointment and sadness go away, looking at the reviewers’ comments is often very useful to write the next ‘hopefully better’ proposal. I have personally found the prereview of the grant proposal by clinical and quantitative reviewers especially helpful.


What fuels your passion for research? Clinical research is an extension of our A bedside practice. It can improve clinical care and patient outcomes through a better understanding of the disease process, its treatment, and the delivery of care.



How do you develop a hypothesis for your research? I think it is important to have an inquisitive mind to spot the gaps in knowledge in our clinical practice. At

SingHealth, we are fortunate to have the Academic Medicine Research Institute (AMRI) research rounds. They provide an open platform for constructive criticism and specific feedback from research and quantitative experts to help sharpen our focus in developing a hypothesis. What are the top three challenges in research and what have you learnt from them? A 1. Finding the time and knowledge to perform meaningful research. Often this involves sacrificing some family time and strict time management. I have found attending the Master’s of Clinical Investigation very helpful, especially for scientific and grant proposal writing. 2. Pitching the research question to be clinically meaningful and feasible. I prioritise those that could potentially have an impact on our understanding of the disease process or change clinical practice to benefit our patients. 3. Finding expert collaborators. Research is a team effort and it can be challenging to find like-minded collaborators who share your vision and are able to add value to the research. Joining the AMRI research rounds is a great way to find collaborators. Q

Any words of advice for budding researchers? I think research is an integral part of our A pursuit of Academic Medicine. For those who have an interest or are just starting out, they may want to join the AMRI research rounds. The ‘incubator’ sessions are very educational. I always learn something new from the expert discussions and the invited speakers help me refine my knowledge. Q

I have personally found the pre-review of the grant proposal by clinical and quantitative reviewers especially helpful.

Top 10 tips on writing a good grant proposal

brought to you by SingHealth Office of Research and AMRI 1. Start early – at least six months before the grant closing date – and get as many colleagues as possible to review your proposal frankly. Then plug the gaps. When in doubt, get help. 2. Talk to your collaborators early – be clear about who is going to do what. 3. When writing your proposal, be persuasive about why your study is important: Will it fill important gaps in science? Will it change clinical care? Just because it has never been done before in Singapore is not a good reason. 4. Include pilot data that provides the foundation and evidence for the hypothesis and methodology to boost your chances of getting it approved. Grants without good pilot data rarely get funding. 5. Make sure your proposal answers the following five points in the affirmative: Is the research feasible, interesting, novel, ethical and relevant? 6. Be specific about your study aims. State them as a primary aim (one only), secondary aims (multiple permitted) and exploratory aims (multiple permitted). 7. Make sure that the overall study strategy, design, methodology, conduct, data collection and analysis are well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project. 8. Include a statistically testable hypothesis for each aim, supported by a well-defined outcome metric and analysis approach. 9. Calculate your sample size to give high probability of a conclusive outcome of the primary hypothesis. Support this with a statistical power analysis. 10. Outline your long term plans, i.e. after you get the initial funding of three years and complete the experiment, what do you intend to do and how can it be used to get larger grants.

Lastly, don’t miss the deadline!

SingHealth Grant Calendar 2014


Closing Month(s)


NMRC Singapore Translational Research (STaR) Investigator Award

Jun & Dec

Salary support (≤$600K p.a.) + Research grant support (≤$5M) + Start-up fund ($500K)

NMRC Clinician Scientist Award (CSA) (I) Investigator (INV) (II) Senior Investigator (SI)

Jun & Dec

Salary support1 + Research grant support [ ≤$225K p.a. (INV) or ≤$350K p.a. (SI) ]

NMRC Transition Award (TA)

Jun & Dec

Salary support1 + Research grant support (≤$375K)

NMRC Clinician Investigator Salary Support Programme (CISSP)

Jun & Dec

Salary support for awardee (≤$300K p.a.)

NMRC Research Training Fellowship

Jun & Dec

≤$500K (inclusive of salary support & tuition fees for part/full-time MSc/PhD and/or overseas training)


NMRC scholarship

Jun & Dec

≤$500K & ≤$800K (inclusive of salary support & tuition fees for local/overseas full-time PhD respectively)


Research grant support (≤$3M)

Apr & Dec

Salary support for awardee (≤$8K/mth) + Research consumables for mentor ($20K)


≤$50K (Start-up) ≤$150K (Transition Project)

Khoo Mentored Research Award (KMRA)



Khoo Pilot Award






National Talent Development

NMRC NUS Master of Clinical Investigation (MCI) Programme MOH Healthcare Research Scholarship


Singapore NRF Fellowship ExxonMobil-NUS Research Fellowship



SingHealth Foundation

Research Grants SingHealth Foundation Research Grant (I) Start-up (II) Transition Project

Khoo Student Research Award (KSRA) SingHealth/Duke-NUS Collaborative Funding



MOH Communicable Diseases - Public Health Research Grant (CD-PHRG)



MOH Health Services Research Competitive Research Grant (HSR-CRG)


≤$200K & ≤$1M (two categories)

MOH Health Services Research New Investigator Grant (HSR-NIG)



Year-round (Cat 1) Jan (Cat 2)

≤$500K; ≤$1M; ≤$1.5M (Cat 1: three subcategories) ≤$3M (Cat 2)

Jun & Dec

≤$1.5M (CS-IRG) ≤$200K (CS-IRG-NIG)

(I) NMRC Cooperative Basic Research Grant (CBRG) (II) CBRG-New Investigator Grant (CBRG-NIG)


≤$1.5M (CBRG) ≤$200K (CBRG-NIG)

NMRC Bedside & Bench (B&B) Grant


≤$2M (if basic Co-PI is not from A*STAR) ≤$5M (if basic Co-PI is from A*STAR)

Year-round (Co-D) Jun & Dec (IIT)

≤$5M (Co-D)3 ≤$5M & ≤$2M (IIT: early & late phase)

NRF Competitive Research Programme (CRP)

Apr & Oct


NRF Proof of Concept (POC) Grant

Feb & Aug


BMRC-SERC Biomedical Engineering Programme (BEP) (I) Proof of Concept (POC) (II) Proof of Value (POV)


≤$500K (POC) ≤$1.5M (POV)

SATA CommHealth Research Grant



Singapore Heart Foundation Research Grant


≤$60K & ≤$80K (two categories)

Singapore Sports Science & Technology Research Grant (SSSTRG)


≤$50K; ≤$100K; ≤$200K; ≤$400K (four categories)

Venerable Yen Pei-NKF Research Fund



MOH Industry Alignment Fund (IAF) (I) Category 1 (II) Category 2 NMRC Clinician Scientist (CS) (I) CS-Individual Research Grant (CS-IRG) (II) CS-IRG-New Investigator Grant (CS-IRG-NIG)



NMRC Clinical Trials Grant (CTG) (I) Co-Development Scheme (Co-D) (II) Investigator-Initiated Trials (IIT)

1 See NMRC website for salary

2 For non-clinically qualified applicants, such

support cap

as PhD holders, exception will be made on a case-by-case basis, subject to NMRC approval

3 Requires collaboration between clinical PI and industry partner

4 For clinically qualified applicants, such as MBBS/

MD/BDS holders, exception will be made on a caseby-case basis, subject to NMRC approval

5 Requires collaboration between clinical PI and basic science PI


Timeline for 2014 Grant Calls

STaR, CSA, TA, CS-IRG/CS-IRG-NIG, HSR-CRG, CTG (IIT) OoR disseminates information to institutional RDOs: (i) Upcoming grants (ii) Requirements and deadlines for PIs’ proposals to undergo pre-review by external parties†

3 Feb

Deadline for PIs to submit full proposal (through institutional RDO) to OoR/AMRI for pre-review by external parties†

24 Feb†

31 Mar†

OoR disseminates information to institutional RDOs: (i) Upcoming grants (ii) Requirements and deadlines for PIs’ proposals to undergo pre-review by external parties† GRANT CALL OPENS


2 May

2 Jun*

17 Apr†

1 Aug

Deadline for PIs to submit project title & 300word abstract (through institutional RDO) to OoR/ AMRI to identify external reviewers†


25 Aug†

11 Aug Deadline for PIs to submit project title & 300-word abstract (through institutional RDO) to OoR/AMRI to identify external reviewers†

Institutional RDO receives pre-review feedback from external reviewers†

(i) STaR/CSA/TA: Deadline (12:00pm) for PI to submit via nGager for Research Director’s (host institution) & Dean’s (Duke-NUS) endorsement, after which application is automatically submitted to NMRC (ii) CS-IRG/CS-IRG-NIG, HSR-CRG, CTG (IIT): submit directly via nGager to NMRC

† Pre-review is mandatory for CSA and TA submissions; optional for the rest *∞ May and November grant call closing dates are estimates and subject to change IAF Category 2: NMRC will review the interest in this grant before having further grant calls


For regular updates on new and upcoming grant calls, closing dates and other information, log on to or look out for the weekly SingHealth OoR e-bulletin issued every Tuesday. For support with grant applications or to be added

SingHealth Grant Calendar 2014 Eligibility Criteria


Funding (Years)

Research Focus

Investigator’s Research Commitment

Singaporean (S), Permanent Resident (PR), Foreigner (F)

Individual (I), Thematic (T), Cross-Institution Collaboration (C-Inst)

MD, MBBS, BDS (SMC-registered)

PhD Scientists, other PhD Healthcare Professionals


S, PR, F


≥0.75 FTE in research in Singapore & regular-rank faculty/academic appointment at an AMC upon award

3 (INV) 5 (SI)

S, PR, F (must be PR at point of award)



≥0.5 FTE in research & regular-rank faculty/academic appointment at an AMC upon award


S, PR, F (must be PR at point of award)


� (must have scientific training at MSc/PhD level)


≥0.5 FTE in research & regular-rank faculty/academic appointment at an AMC upon award

Commensurate with existing active grant life



2 (overseas training) 2 - 3 (MSc) 4 (PhD)






Bond duration 2.5 years




� (final year BST & above)

Bond duration 5 years (local PhD) 7 years (overseas PhD)


S, PR, F


0.5 - 1




S, PR, F



S, PR, F


≥0.3 FTE in research & adjunct/regular-rank appointment with Duke-NUS upon award


S, PR, F


Must hold AMRI membership & adjunct/regular-rank appointment with Duke-NUS upon award


S, PR, F









S, PR, F

I, T


S, PR, F

I, T


S, PR, F

I, T

� (min. Master’s degree)

2 (Cat 1) 3 (Cat 2)

S, PR, F





S, PR, F




S, PR, F

I, C-Inst



S, PR, F

I, C-Inst




S, PR, F

T, C-Inst


S, PR, F



S, PR, F


1 - 1.5 (POC) 1.5 - 2 (POV)

S, PR, F

T, C-Inst





S, PR, F



S, PR, F





15 Sep Institutional RDOs’ internal deadline

29 Sep†

Bond duration 1.5 - 5 years (local MSc/PhD) 0 - 7 years (overseas research attachment/MSc/PhD)

≥0.6 FTE in research

Mentor (PI) must be Duke-NUS adjunct/regular-rank member; Co-I must be Duke-NUS medical student TBA


Institutional RDO receives pre-review feedback from external reviewers†

17 Oct†



FTE/Faculty Appointment/Bond

0.1 - 0.6 FTE in research


Deadline for PIs to submit full proposal (through institutional RDO) to OoR/AMRI for prereview by external parties†

Non-PhD Healthcare Professionals



3 Nov

1 Dec*

22 Sep

(i) STaR/CSA/TA: Deadline (12:00pm) for PI to submit via nGager for Research Director’s (host institution) & Dean’s (Duke-NUS) endorsement, after which application is automatically submitted to NMRC (ii) CS-IRG/CS-IRG-NIG, CBRG/CBRG-NIG, HSR-NIG, CTG (IIT): submit directly via nGager to NMRC (iii) CD-PHRG: submit directly via nGager to MOH (iv) IAF Cat 2: submit through institutional RDO to NMRC

A*STAR: Agency for Science, Technology and Research AMC: Academic Medical Centre AMRI: Academic Medicine Research Institute B&B: Bedside & Bench BDS: Bachelor of Dental Surgery BEP: Biomedical Engineering Programme BMRC: Biomedical Research Council BST: Basic Specialist Training CBRG: Cooperative Basic Research Grant CBRG-NIG: CBRG-New Investigator Grant CD-PHRG: Communicable Diseases-Public Health Research Grant CISSP: Clinician Investigator Salary Support Programme Co-D: Co-Development Scheme Co-I: Co-Investigator Co-PI: Co-Principal Investigator CRP: Competitive Research Programme CSA: Clinician Scientist Award CS-IRG: Clinician Scientist-Individual Research Grant CS-IRG-NIG: CS-IRG-New Investigator Grant CTG: Clinical Trials Grant FTE: Full-time equivalent HSR: Health Services Research HSR-CRG: HSR-Competitive Research Grant HSR-NIG: HSR-New Investigator Grant IAF: Industry Alignment Fund IIT: Investigator-Initiated Trials

d to our research mailing list, please contact us at 6576 7014/7013/7012 or email us at This calendar is accurate as of December 2013.

INV: Investigator KMRA: Khoo Mentored Research Award KSRA: Khoo Student Research Award MBBS: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery MCI: Master of Clinical Investigation MD: Doctor of Medicine MOH: Ministry of Health MSc: Master of Science nGager: NMRC Grant Application and Grant Evaluation for Research system NMRC: National Medical Research Council NKF: National Kidney Foundation NRF: National Research Foundation NUS: National University of Singapore OoR: Office of Research P.A.: Per annum PhD: Doctor of Philosophy PI: Principal Investigator POC: Proof of Concept POV: Proof of Value RDO: Research Development Office SATA: Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association SERC: Science and Engineering Research Council SI: Senior Investigator SMC: Singapore Medical Council SSSTRG: Singapore Sports Science & Technology Research Grant STaR: Singapore Translational Research TA: Transition Award

SingHealth Grant Calendar 2014

About core platforms and programmes at SingHealth The SingHealth core platforms provide research services to and are important collaborators for the research community in Singapore. They also run educational activities, such as lectures and hands-on workshops, which offer a deeper understanding of the capabilities and operational characteristics of their sophisticated equipment or facilities. If you want to draw on the core platforms’ expertise, contact them at least three months before the estimated closing date of the grant you are applying for.

SingHealth Experimental Medicine Centre (SEMC)

SingHealth Investigational Medicine Unit (IMU)

Director, Clinical: Assoc Prof Darren Lim Director, Administration & Operations: Ms Sue Tee-Yap

SingHealth IMU provides services for: (a) Proof of concept, “first-in-man” or early stage clinical development of investigational drugs, vaccines and devices. (b) Identification and validation of novel disease biomarkers. (c) Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies. (d) Healthy volunteer trials.

SingHealth Advanced Bio-imaging

Director: Assoc Prof Antonius Van Dongen The SingHealth Advanced Bio-imaging centre will open its doors in March, offering several state-ofthe-art imaging platforms, for electron and optical microscopy. Experienced staff will be available for advice and training. At this core facility, a wide range of samples (live and fixed, stained or fluorescent) and imaging modalities will be available, including highcontent screening (HCS), wide-field, confocal, superresolution microscopy (STED, SIM, STORM, PALM), as well as transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Director: Prof Salvatore Albani

STIIC addresses the need for substantial translational clinical research initiatives in immunology and inflammation within SingHealth. The centre will focus on important unmet medical needs. Operationally, it aims to support researchers by exploring, designing and developing individual translational research projects in several clinical areas. The centre aims to leverage the synergies between clinicians and basic scientists as well as nurture translational scientists. STIIC will be fully operational from October.

Director: Dr Ling Khoon Lin

The SingHealth Flow Cytometry facility will provide fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) and analysis services. SingHealth’s Flow Cytometry facility accepts sorting of most biological samples, including live clinical or even virally-transduced samples. The facility offers services that are a competitive alternative to currently available ones.

SEMC is Singapore’s most comprehensive animal-based research facility and is licensed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore. It was the first in Singapore to be fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International, which certifies the centre’s commitment and adherence to the highest standards of humane care and use of research animals. It is currently the largest centre in Singapore capable of carrying out large animal research. With almost three decades of experience, SEMC has highly skilled personnel and a comprehensive specialist infrastructure to support research projects meeting the highest international standards.

SingHealth IMU is a dedicated early phase clinical research unit, which supports the research of industry-sponsored and investigator-initiated trials.

SingHealth Translational Immunology & Inflammation Centre (STIIC)

SingHealth Flow Cytometry

Director: Dr Bryan Ogden Administration: Ms Inria Kurniawan Then

Core services offered: (a) Self- or staff-operated analysis. (b) Training for end users to execute their analyses independently. (c) Staff-operated cell-sorting services for both live and fixed biological samples.

SingHealth Tissue Repository (STR) & Advanced Molecular Pathology Laboratory (AMPL) Director: Assoc Prof Tan Soo Yong Administration: Ms Elsie Kok

STR and AMPL facilitate the conduct of basic, translational and clinical research at SingHealth. STR is the largest human tissue biobank in Singapore, whose work is complemented by AMPL, an integrated research service platform set up by SingHealth and the Institute of Molecular & Cellular Biology (IMCB). STR maintains scheduled and unscheduled collections of tissues (mainly malignancies) from patients who donate any leftover tissue to research. In addition, STR provides a ‘hostelling service’ for researchers who require a facility to process and store bio-resources for the duration of their projects. AMPL offers a complete pipeline for biomarker discovery, from testing in animal models to validation in clinical material. In facilitating drug development, researchers and industry have access to GLP-grade toxicological facilities supported by veterinary pathologists to test drug safety, as well as the ability to assess drug efficacy on patientderived xenografts, supported by clinical histopathologists.

Personalised OMIC Lattice for Advanced Research and Improving Stratification (POLARIS)

SingHealth Clinical Pharmacology Core Director: Prof Balram Chowbay

Director: Assoc Prof Tony Lim Kiat Hon

The SingHealth Clinical Pharmacology Core will provide clinical pharmacology services to SingHealth institutions and pharmaceutical companies engaged in carrying out early phase clinical trials.

POLARIS, an initiative focusing on stratified medicine that aims to deliver better patient outcomes through research, is a collaboration between A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and SingHealth.

The following services will be available at the Clinical Pharmacology Core from March: (a) Bio-analytical services, including development of drug assays to support investigator- and pharmainitiated clinical trials. (b) Design and running of pharmacokinetic (PK)/ pharmacodynamic (PD) studies in preclinical models and patients. (c) Biomarker assay development and therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM). (d) Translational pharmacogenomic-based functional studies in in vitro and in vivo model systems.

The team is currently developing a clinical assay for corneal dystrophy. Gastrointestinal and lung cancer panels are also being developed. POLARIS works closely with clinicians and scientists at the SingHealth and A*STAR campuses. The laboratories at SingHealth are currently undergoing validation and setup and will be ready in the second half of this year.

About SingHealth Office Of Research (OoR)

Reporting to SingHealth’s Group Director of Research, SingHealth OoR works closely with institutional research administration offices and relevant partners to support research undertakings within the Group. The most recent initiative from SingHealth OoR is the grant pre-review process that was introduced in collaboration with AMRI. SingHealth OoR supports the research community with dedicated teams that provide advice on grant management, finance operations, facilities management, policy and communications, collaboration, project management and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) activities.

Useful contacts OoR – Grant Administration

Core Platforms SingHealth Investigational Medicine Unit (IMU)

Dr Si-Hoe San Ling

6576 7012

General enquiries

Ms Tan Yi Mei

6576 7013

Ms Robyn Yip (for charges)

Ms Iris Soh

6576 7014 Ms Maria Leong

Centralised Institutional Review Board (CIRB) 6323 7515

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Ms Serene Lok

SingHealth Experimental Medicine Centre (SEMC)

OoR – Compliance & Ethics General enquiries 6323 7552 / 6323 7532

6576 7015

6576 7041

SingHealth Tissue Repository (STR) & Advanced Molecular Pathology Laboratory (AMPL) General enquiries

Ms Magdalene Koh (enquiries on human tissue-based bioresources and research services)

SingHealth Flow Cytometry General enquiries

Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Ms Cindy Goh

6377 8533

Research Programmes SingHealth Translational Immunology & Inflammation Centre (STIIC) General enquiries

6576 7164

SingHealth Advanced Bio-imaging Assoc Prof Antonius Van Dongen

Dr Isaac Chua SingHealth Clinical Pharmacology Core

Personalised OMIC Lattice for Advanced Research and Improving Stratification (POLARIS) General enquiries

Prof Balram Chowbay

Ms Natalia Sutiman

This research special is brought to you by SingHealth Office of Research.

Tomorrow’s Medicine - ISSUE 5, JANUARY 2014

Engaging the community, healing the neighbourhood

Sengkang General and Community Hospitals want to establish deep roots with the local community through meaningful engagement efforts


lated to open in 2018, Sengkang General and Community Hospitals will be one of Singapore’s largest regional hospitals catering to the growing population in the northeast. With a vision of “Healthy Living, Fulfilling Life”, Sengkang Health (SKH) seeks to add value to the community through engagement initiatives and wellness-related activities. Beyond providing healthcare, SKH aims to build healthier and stronger communities for all. “We want the Sengkang hospitals to be a hub for bonding and sharing of information for healthy living, not a sterile place you come to only when you’re sick,” said Professor Christopher Cheng, Pro-tem CEO of Sengkang Health. Since July 2012, SKH has been actively reaching out to the community in the northeast. The team keeps community leaders updated and engaged through sessions with MPs as well as grassroots leaders at the GRC, SMC levels at least once a year.

SKH also aims to connect with residents living around the site once a month during the construction period. Before piling and construction works commenced, residents staying nearby were kept informed and SKH ensured that feedback channels were established.

We want the Sengkang hospitals to be a hub for bonding and sharing of information for healthy living, not a sterile place you come to only when you’re sick. – Prof Christopher Cheng, Pro-tem CEO, Sengkang Health Forming strategic, collaborative partnerships with community health organisations such as the Health Promotion Board, People’s Association, Singapore Sports Council, Tobacco Free Generation 2000 Movement and schools, the hospitals envision facilitating and being at the centre of a new healthy

One-stop shop for research

New research database management system to make research administration easier and more efficient cluster-wide


cross SingHealth, there are some 1,000 big and small research projects going on at any one time - all of which are individually tracked by research administrators for their progress, output and funding status. While some SingHealth institutions have their customized research database management systems, most use basic spreadsheet functions for tracking - which makes regular monitoring, timely reporting and fair performance measurement across the cluster challenging. To overcome the problem, participants and thought leaders at the 2012 SingHealth Duke-NUS Joint Research Retreat recommended that a common research database be adopted across the cluster, and such a platform - called the SingHealth Integrated Systems in Healthcare for Research (iSHARE) - is now being developed

Building up to age-friendliness Continued from front page

Apart from physical structures, services too underwent a revamp. Among Geylang Polyclinic’s new initiatives for the elderly is a Geriatric Centre which screens and manages age-related conditions such as osteoporosis and dementia. Patients can also participate in free workshops on ageing issues like how

living ecosystem rooted in the northeast community.


Groundbreaking for Sengkang General and Community Hospitals, 27 October 2013

One such initiative is the “Millennia Kids” programme, which encourages and empowers young children in the northeast to be ambassadors for healthy living and embrace positive habits such as sports, sensible eating and staying tobacco free. The first two schools to support the programme are Compassvale Primary School and Sengkang Primary School. Last year, SKH also invited the community to participate in its “Help Shape Our Logo” exercise, where members of the public gave their views to help shape the new hospitals’ future identity.

Sengkang residents gave their views to help shape Sengkang Health’s logo

SKH will continue to engage the community through activities and dialogue sessions with community partners and residents. Ho Whei Chern, Manager of Community Partnerships at Sengkang Health, said, “Our emphasis is to develop strong relationships in the community. We want to establish ourselves as a committed stakeholder who listens and adds value to our neighbourhood.”

Sengkang residents penning their well wishes for Sengkang Health’s Community Mural

A workgroup led by the SingHealth Office of Research is driving the development of iSHaRE

for the SingHealth family. A workgroup led by Ms Enny Kiesworo, Director, SingHealth Office of Research (OoR) is driving the development of iSHaRE. The group comprises a core of 24 senior research administrators but expands to over 50 persons when clinical trial and research finance administrators have, on occasion, participated. From April last year, the group has spent more than 1,600 man hours to painstakingly evaluate existing systems (such as SGH’s SIRAS, SERI’s ReDOZ Duke-NUS’ system and OoR’s GMS system) and define a comprehensive list of specifications for managing the entire life-cycle of a study, including: up-to-date financial information, change requests, automatic reminders and document repository. Professor Wong Tien Yin, SingHealth to prevent falls and manage their health. Tampines Polyclinic introduced several new services, including physiotherapy, an improved diabetic foot screening service and the Health Wellness Clinic to provide care nearer to the homes of our patients, and reduce the need for them to visit the hospitals. The laboratory was also expanded

Group Director of Research, foresees iSHARE playing a major role in our research endeavours. He said, “It will support the needs of our researchers through harmonised processes and more efficient administration.” Ong Siok Luan, Senior Manager of SGH’s Division of Research, added, “A shared system allows us to collate and track the same data. This frees up time by avoiding duplication and making data accessible for easy reporting and analysis.” Sonny Lim, Deputy Director of the KK Research Centre, explained, “When fully implemented, the system will be a one-stop service centre for all research matters in the cluster, including CIRB application and research budgeting. We aim to make the tracking of research milestones will be more convenient, timely and accurate.

to three times the size to cater to patients’ needs. The 10-Point Plan ensured that each patient interaction point was designed optimally. And it looks like all efforts have paid off as patients commended the two new polyclinics for their enhanced features. “It’s very encouraging,” says Opheania Chen, Senior Executive of Facilities Management at

“Helping researchers manage all their studies through a single IT platform will afford an even more research-conducive culture and environment across the SingHealth cluster.” Roll-out of its first phase for testing by research administrators is expected by end-2014. The system may also interface with existing backend support systems such as fund management, electronic IRB and human resource system in subsequent phases. OoR is working with Group Procurement Office and IHIS to put up the workgroup’s Request for Proposal in the next few months.

It will support the needs of our researchers through harmonised processes and more efficient administration SingHealth Polyclinics. “This will stand us in good stead when we move on to renovate the other polyclinics.” The 10-Point Plan will also be rolled out to all other SingHealth institutions.


Tomorrow’s Medicine - ISSUE 5, JANUARY 2014

Forging critical connections NNI sets its sights on being regional best


ringing closer collaboration between the two NNI centres at SGH and TTSH, gaining groundswell from his associates and making NNI a regional leader in neuroscience are just some of the goals that Associate Professor Au Wing Lok has for the Neuroscience Academic Clinical Program (ACP). Prof Au is the Academic Deputy Chair of the program which was rolled out in April last year. Since its formation, the team behind the ACP has been actively focusing on gaining critical traction on the ground, ensuring that every stakeholder is engaged in the transformational journey. They have introduced a number of firsts for the institution, such as their first research day in July 2013 and the first NNI Education Day on 27 September 2013. The institution has also continued to produce top-notch research across the care spectrum. One such landmark finding is a recent multi-institutional study between NNI and the National University of Singapore, which identified a component in green tea that has potent cellular protection against Parkinson Disease.

The institution has its eyes on the region. Prof Au shared, “I hope for NNI to be at the forefront of neuroscience. Our three pillars of clinical care, education and research should be leading the field regionally in the next three to five years.” He added, “Complacency is the road to failure. We should always question what else we can do better, and learn and collaborate with our colleagues in the region to provide more holistic models of care.” Prof Au’s experience during the Health Manpower Development Plan, first at the Pacific Parkinsons Research Institute in Vancouver, Canada, and a second time at the Toronto Western Hospital, Canada inspired him on how clinical services and academic output could be seamlessly married. He said, “A closer collaboration between both NNI centres will leverage our strengths be it in basic science or clinical research and education. From staff to systems, resources can be shared so that we can deliver more effective, integrated care.”

Two clear indicators of achieving the ACP’s mission would be first, NNI becoming the training centre of choice among future leaders and second, improved clinical care based on evidence as well as quality improvement. To this aim, greater collaboration and more patient awareness are needed. He said, “Academic Medicine will also require a change in patient culture. Like in the West, having patients more receptive towards clinical trials will boost our research efforts and bring greater awareness.”

We should always question what else we can do better, and learn and collaborate with our colleagues in the region to provide more holistic models of care. – Assoc Prof Au Wing Lok, Academic Deputy Chair, Neuroscience ACP

2013 - Our Academic Medicine journey so far Milestones in the changing SingHealth landscape

Cardiovascular, Oncology, Pathology Academic Clinical Programs formed Total number of ACPs now: 9


First phase of centralised employment for clinicians

21 MAR


SingHealth Duke-NUS Strategy Retreat 2013 Resulted in recommendations for innovative models of care, infrastructure planning, seamless experience, Academic Medicine culture, leadership development and talent management

30 MAY

25-29 JUN

Office of Service Transformation set up to catalyse, facilitate and monitor initiatives leading to cluster-wide integration of seamless delivery of services

20 JUL


Opening of Academia New building in SGH Campus provides 13 storeys and 75,000 sqm of collaborative space for pathologists, scientists and educators

NHCS completes superstructure of its new building increasing its clinic capacity by two-fold Inaugural SingHealth Duke-NUS fundraising gala dinner More than $17 million pledged for Academic Medicine

AM•EI Events

Duke-NUS Centre for Technology and Development launched to translate research outcome from Duke-NUS, SingHealth and its partners into commercial applications

Prof Tan Kok Hian appointed as Group Director, Academic Medicine and Senior Associate Dean, Academic Medicine

15-17 AUG

Inaugural SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Conference for interprofessional healthcare educators and residents


27 OCT

Official launch of AM partners portal

30 OCT

Groundbreaking of Sengkang General and Community Hospitals Hospitals will provide residents in the northeast region with easier access to healthcare services


Professors Wong Tien Yin and Thomas Coffman appointed to Duke-NUS senior leadership

AMRI Events

For details and registration, contact the Academic Medicine Education Institute (AM•EI) at

For details and registration, contact the Academic Medicine Research Institute (AMRI) at

AM•EI EDUCATION GRAND ROUND 9 Jan, 5.00pm-6.00pm: Adult learning theories: practical reality or academic mumbo-jumbo?

WORKSHOPS 7 Jan, 9.00am-12.00pm: Adaptive designs for clinical trials: A statistical perspective for non-statisticians workshop I 9 Jan, 9.00am-12.00pm: Adaptive designs for clinical trials: Statistical methodology workshop II

FACULTY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS 7 Jan, 1.00pm-5.00pm: Learning at the bedside – Creating a positive learning experience 21 Jan, 1.00pm-4.00pm: Designing effective objectives and their links to quality multiple choice questions 24 Jan, 11.00am-2.00pm: Issues and challenges with assessment and evaluation 11 Feb, 1.00pm-5.00pm: Strategies to improve feedback

EVENTS & SEMINARS 17 Jan, 12.30pm-1.15pm: Research Round @ KKH : Statistical analysis of human growth and development 17 Jan, 12.15pm-2.00pm: Research Round @ KKH : Designing studies of diagnostic accuracy

Tomorrow's Medicine Issue 05  

Enhanced features for elderly patients at Geylang and Tampines, Our researchers joining the big league, A patient-centred care model, Nurses...

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