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Major boost for food research projects

18 August 2011

Under the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Competitive Research Programme (CRP) Funding Scheme, three future food research projects have recently been awarded grants of up to S$10 million each. Two of them are from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences, and the third is from Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory.

The two successful proposals from NUS are titled “Rice for the Future: Novel Strategies to Develop Elite and Improved Varieties for Sustainable Rice Production” and “Development of Virus-Controlling Biotechnologies for Cost-Efficient and Sustainable Aquaculture”. The former project is led by NUS Prof Prakash Kumar and Dr Naweed Naqvi from Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL); and the latter is spearheaded by Assoc Prof Hong Yunhan and fellow Principal Investigators.

Said Prof Kumar: “This award will enable our team to improve rice yield and adapt the crop to rapidly changing environmental conditions. The results will be of great interest to agri-biotechnology companies.” The NRF grant will support NUS’ new rice research programme with TLL, in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute.

On the other project, Assoc Prof Hong, a renowned scientist in fish stem cell biology, said: “Our programme features a multidisciplinary strategy that allows for the development of virus-resistant seed fish and antivirals towards cost-efficient and sustainable production of food fish.”

The three projects were chosen from among many others proposed in response to NRF’s 7th CRP grant call on “Meeting Future Food Demands for Singapore”. The International Evaluation Panel, which assessed the submissions, had high praise for the quality of the successful proposals and their relevance to Singapore’s development of long-term solutions to rising demands on the food eco-system.