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Mechanobiology Institute officially opens at NUS

08 October 2010

INSTITUTE LAUNCH: (From left) Director of Projects of the National Research Foundation Dr Lawrence Koe; Distinguished Professor of the NUS Department of Biological Sciences, Professor of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University and Director of the Mechanobiology Institute Prof Michael Sheetz; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education Mrs Tan Ching Yee; and NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan
The Mechanobiology Institute (MBI) at NUS, one of Singapore's five national-level Research Centres of Excellence (RCE), was officially opened on 6 October 2010. Established in 2009, MBI focuses on the quantitative and systematic understanding of basic biological functional processes in living cells.

Funded with S$150 million over a period of 10 years by Singapore's Ministry of Education and National Research Foundation, MBI focuses on three main levels of research - from the mechanobiology of molecules to cells and finally to tissues. Research results are expected to influence the development of specific drugs and highly accurate treatment of heart diseases, cancer and other ailments due to ageing. The Institute plans to create the world's first manual of cellular and molecular function, a step-by-step, modular understanding of cell mechanics across molecular, cellular and tissue levels.

Officiating the launch of MBI, Guest-of-Honour Mrs Tan Ching Yee who is Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education said: "By pushing the boundaries of cutting-edge research, the RCEs will lead the drive in creating useful knowledge for the world, and tangible applications and value for Singapore."

"This is an impressive family that MBI belongs to, and will be expected to measure against. But I am confident that the choice of research focus for the MBI holds great promise," noted Mrs Tan.

Of similar view, NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan said: "I am confident that this is just the beginning - MBI is poised to build a strong critical mass of the most innovative researchers, do pioneering science and play a pivotal role in enhancing the interdisciplinary research environment in NUS as well as in Singapore."

Under the leadership of Director of MBI Prof Michael Sheetz, MBI has produced sterling achievements. This included the membrane chip developed by MBI's Prof Jay Groves which could be used to apply a pulling force on cancer cells to make them behave more normally and hence slow down the development and spread of the disease. In addition, the team led by Prof Lim Chwee Teck has developed a biochip laced with micro-structures to filter circulating tumour cells from blood.