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Donations to spur cancer and ageing research

08 April 2013

Assoc Prof Goh Boon Cher (left), who leads NCIS' drug development programme, and Assoc Prof Lee Soo Chin are among key researchers at the Institute working on cancer projects

Dr Tsao (3rd from right) with NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences faculty members (from left) Assoc Prof Chia Ngee Choon, Assoc Prof Chan, Dean Prof Brenda Yeoh, Dr Feng Qiushi and Assoc Prof Ho Kong Chong at a recent Tsao-NUS Ageing Research Initiative event

Research at NUS has been given a big boost by two generous donations for studying cancer and ageing.

Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine recently received a S$25 million gift from the Yong Loo Lin Trust to work with the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) to develop new models of cancer care through research and education. This is on top of the Trust's S$100 million gift to the School of Medicine in 2005 for research and scholarship in various diseases, including cancer. The new donation will focus on improving the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer at NCIS located at the National University Hospital (NUH).

In recognition of the latest contribution, NCIS' new facility at the NUH Medical Centre will be named the Yong Siew Yoon Wing, after the daughter of the late Dr Yong Loo Lin. A matching grant from the Singapore Government will see the fund totalling up to S$50 million.

NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan expressed heartfelt appreciation for the Trust's "transformational gift" and continuing support over the years, which also included a S$50 million donation to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. "The Yong Loo Lin Trust has truly been pivotal in shaping the future of education in medicine and music in Singapore," he said.

NUS Vice-Provost for Academic Medicine and Director of NCIS, Professor John Wong, Isabel Chan Professor in Medical Sciences, said that with increased life expectancy, an estimated one in three people in Singapore is expected to be afflicted by cancer in their lifetime. Thus the disease is a key area of research and education, with NCIS and the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore leading the efforts on campus.

The new funding will allow clinicians and clinician-scientists to work with Singapore and overseas researchers to discover treatments, as well as support clinical trials which will benefit local and Asian patients.

The University has also received S$750,000 from the Tsao Foundation to further investigation into ageing, including the critical issues of disability and frailty, caregiver needs, retirement and long-term care. Current work into such key topics in Singapore and the region has been lacking, and findings will help decision makers formulate policies for the elderly.

The new donation will fund the Tsao-NUS Ageing Research Initiative set up in 2009 through a gift from the Tsao Foundation which focuses on four main areas - healthy ageing, caregiving, long-term care financing and evaluation of an intervention programme for seniors. Over the next three years, the team will also explore three new project areas: employment among older Singaporeans; nursing home placement and intergenerational solidarity; and examining retirement transitions pathways of older Singaporeans.

Dr Mary Ann Tsao, President of the Tsao Foundation, said: "In renewing our gift to the Initiative for another three years, we look towards our continued contribution to developing evidence-based programme solutions, informing policy, and ultimately, empowering older persons in Singapore and beyond to reach their potential for health, social participation and well-being."

Associate Professor Angelique Chan, Director of Tsao-NUS Ageing Research Initiative, said the funding has contributed to the creation of research evidence on local ageing, as well as supported international work that generated valuable knowledge about ageing. She also highlighted the key role that NUS can play in synergising work across multiple disciplines such as social sciences, medicine and policy.