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Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore Polytechnic enter a partnership to advance clinical research on evolving infectious diseases



Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore Polytechnic enter a partnership to advance clinical research on evolving infectious diseases

Singapore, 17 June 2013 Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)’s Institute of Infectious Disease & Epidemiology (IIDE) sealed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Singapore Polytechnic (SP) today to advance clinical research on evolving infectious diseases.

This is the first MOU that IIDE is also signing with an academic institution to nurture more clinical research professionals into this field. IIDE was set up at TTSH last year to build human capital and expertise in the management of infectious diseases.

This move is timely in view of the rising trend of new infectious diseases that have been in the global spotlight. China/ Taiwan have reported 132 cases and 37 deaths from Avian Influenza A (H7N9) virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 58 confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) worldwide. Though a small number, MERS-CoV has a high mortality rate of 60%. Though H7N9 and MERS-CoV have not hit our shores, given today’s globalised travel patterns, it may be a matter of time before some disease does.

At home, dengue cases have reached its highest ever in Singapore history, with close to 10,000 cases and two deaths so far. Globally, WHO estimates that 500,000 will be afflicted with severe dengue each year and puts the death rate at 2.5%. Current treatment for these diseases is primarily supportive as there is no targeted treatment so far.

The collaboration will bring together the respective expertise of both institutions, scientists from SP’s Centre for Biomedical and Life Sciences (CBLS) and TTSH clinicians, to help strengthen early detection of new strains and diseases. This will provide the healthcare institution to implement the appropriate prevention or diagnostic measures.

As part of the MOU, IIDE will conduct research and development works with the CBLS staff in SP’s laboratories. These include bacterial genome sequencing, HIV viral quantitation and point-of-care diagnostics validation for Dengue, MRSA and antimicrobial resistance bacteria, to name a few.

The TTSH clinicians will also provide relevant insights and samples for validation purposes to complement the development and optimization of rapid diagnostic test kits for deployment in the market. Through the joint research, new antibiotics might also be developed against infectious diseases.

“Research into infectious diseases can help with the early identification of new pathogens, out of which new diagnostic tests, treatment and control strategies can be developed,” said Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin, Director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology (IIDE) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, “Singapore as a busy travel hub in the heart of Southeast Asia, needs to up its capacity in readiness to take on challenges from emerging infections.”

The partnership also enhances the learning experience in clinical research by the final-year students of SP’s Diploma in Biomedical Sciences (DBS). Starting from April 2014, DBS students will get an unique practical internship in the area of infectious disease clinical research at TTSH medical laboratories. This is the first time that students get to undergo a seven-month internship at doing hands-on research work, an improvement over a three-month internship doing routine lab tests.

Affirming the MOU, Mr Lim Peng Hun, SP’s Deputy Principal for Technology and Industry said, “We are excited to collaborate with TTSH to conduct research and develop diagnostic kits and drugs for some of the prevalent infectious diseases in the world. This partnership will also help generate more awareness about infectious diseases and develop competency and confidence among our staff and students for the healthcare sector”.

From left to right: A/Prof Leo Yee Sin, Director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, A/Prof Thomas Lew, Chairman, Medical Board, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Mr Lim Peng Hun, Deputy Principal (Technology and Industry), Singapore Polytechnic and Mr Lance Lim, Chief Technology Officer, Singapore Polytechnic at the MoU signing ceremony.


About Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)

TTSH is one of Singapore’s largest multi-disciplinary hospitals with more than 160 years of pioneering medical care and development. The hospital has 36 clinical and allied health departments, 15 specialist centres and is powered by more than 6,000 healthcare staff. TTSH sees over 2,000 patients at its specialist clinics and some 460 patients at its emergency department every day. TTSH is part of the National Healthcare Group, providing holistic and integrated patient care.

With a strong quality culture steeped in patient safety, TTSH constantly challenges itself to provide faster, better, cheaper and safer care for patients. To this end, the hospital keeps abreast of, and invests in, medical technology and system improvements as well as its staff upgrading. In recognition of its commitment to excellent patient care and its comprehensive range of quality healthcare services, TTSH has been awarded the ISO 9001 certification and the prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation.

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About Institute of Infectious Disease & Epidemiology (IIDE)

The National Healthcare Group (NHG) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) set up the Institute of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology (IIDE) to provide an overarching platform to build human capital and expertise in the management of infectious diseases. IIDE’s mission is to treat and prevent infectious diseases, manage outbreaks and provide strong leadership in clinical care, medical education, research, public health and community involvement through excellence and compassion in the management of patients. It integrates TTSH’s key functional units for Infectious Disease, Clinical Epidemiology, and the Communicable Disease Centre and at the same time, aims to advance these speciality fields through research, training & education and community engagement.

About Singapore Polytechnic (

Established in 1954, Singapore Polytechnic (SP) is Singapore’s first polytechnic. It has 10 schools that offer 49 full-time diploma courses for close to 16,000 students. SP has adopted a proven creative teaching and learning framework and it offers students a holistic, authentic and industry-relevant curriculum, innovative and vibrant learning spaces, and enriching overseas programmes.

The Polytechnic is committed to producing competent and versatile graduates, who are also imbued with sound values, so that they can be work ready, life ready and world-ready. Among the network of more than 170,000 SP alumni are successful entrepreneurs, top executives in multinational and public-listed corporations, and well-known professionals across various industries and leaders in government.

Since 2009, SP’s Centre for Biomedical and Life Sciences has been focusing on the development of diagnostic kits for infectious diseases and have already licenced a few kits for commercialization such as the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease rapid test kit which was launched in 2012.

SP is the first polytechnic to be awarded the President’s Award for the Environment in 2010 and the President's Social Service Award in 2011.

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About Singapore Polytechnic’s Centre for Biomedical and Life Sciences 

In 2001, Singapore Polytechnic set up the Centre for Biomedical and Life Sciences (CBLS) to develop a vibrant applied Research & Development culture to support technology development with a focus on drug discovery, bioprocessing, chemical synthesis and plant biotechnology.

In 2009, CBLS refocused their Research & Development efforts on developing diagnostic kits for infectious diseases and oncology. A few successful kits such as the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease test kit and MRSA screening test kit have already been licenced for commercialisation.

Press release jointly issued by Singapore Polytechnic and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. For more information, you can contact:

Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Farren Fernandez

Assistant Director, Corporate Communications

Tel: 6357 8415

Mobile: 9728 0247

Praveen Nayago

Executive, Corporate Communications,

Tel: 6357 8434

Mobile: 9721 9419

Singapore Polytechnic

Frank Chua

Corporate Communications Dept

Tel: 6870 7043
Mobile: 9771 7871

Tan Jiunn Ngee

Corporate Communications Dept

Tel: 6772 1347
Mobile: 9841 4206


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