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Third Research Centre of Excellence at NUS

20 February 2009

PART OF THE MECHANOBIOLOGY TEAM: (From left) Assoc Prof Lim Chwee Teck, Director-designate Prof Michael Sheetz and co-Director-designate Prof Paul Matsudaira
A new Mechanobiology Research Centre of Excellence (RCE), which will work on new ways of studying diseases through the mechanisms of cell and tissue mechanics, will be set up at NUS. It will receive a funding of $150 million over 10 years from the National Research Foundation and the Ministry of Education. The Mechanobiology RCE will be NUS’ third Research Centre of Excellence following two other RCEs - the Centre for Quantum Technologies and Cancer Science Institute of Singapore.

Led by Director-designate Prof Michael Sheetz from the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University and co-Director-designate Prof Paul Matsudaira, Head of the NUS Department of Biological Sciences, the centre will have three integrated inter-disciplinary teams working on cellular, molecular and tissue mechanics. The researchers will endeavour to develop powerful quantitative physical and biochemical models to define dynamic cellular functions, experimental reagents and tools for studying diseases of cells and tissues.

"The competitive advantage of this Centre lies in its unique approach in characterising biomechanics at the molecule-to-cell-to-tissue levels through integrated inter-disciplinary teams," said Prof Michael Sheetz, who is also the William R Kenan Jr. Professor at Columbia University. He added that the research synergies with NUS, National University Hospital, Nanyang Technological University, Temasek Life Sciences Lab (TLL), Singapore-MIT Alliance Research Technology Centre and A*Star research institutes will enable Singapore to become one of the leaders in this field.

"Leveraging on our existing strengths in Biology, Bioengineering, Nanotechnology and Computational Biology, the Mechanobiology RCE will assemble a world-class team of international and local faculty to conduct high quality research," said NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan. "We can look forward to breakthroughs that will have a significant impact on new drug discovery and therapeutics."

The RCE is slated to start its operations in September this year and expects to have an initial 60 researchers and 180 researchers by 2011. It also plans to train 100 PhD students and 100 postdoctoral fellows over the next 10 years.