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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research to set up its first Asian branch in Singapore

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed by the worlds largest international non-profit cancer research institute, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR), to establish a branch for translational and clinical cancer research in Singapore. This is in collaboration with three Singapore institutions, namely, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine of the National University of Singapore (NUS-YLLSoM) and the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS GMS).

The intent to establish the LICR in Singapore was announced in a speech by the city-states Minister for Health, Khaw Boon Wan, at the opening session of the American Association of Cancer Researchs (AACR) Centennial Conference held in Singapore.

LICR has 10 research branches across Australia, Europe, and North and South America. The Singapore venture would be its first in Asia.

Dr. Andrew J.G. Simpson, LICRs Scientific Director, said that the synergistic opportunities presented by Singapore were a perfect fit for LICR. The Ludwig Institute has great strength and experience in taking discoveries from investigator-initiated studies and exploring their potential clinical applications. In Singapore, the laboratory research is world-class, and there is an extraordinary clinical infrastructure ready to take the fruits of that research into clinical trials. Together, we can span the traditional divide between the laboratory and the clinic, hopefully to bring our research discoveries to human benefit. Dr. Simpson added that Singapore, with its multi-ethnic Asian population, is also advantageous for LICRs clinical studies, several of which are assessing potential treatments for cancers that particularly affect the Asian community.

LICR is well-known in the field of cancer research, producing articles of extremely high impact and conducted nearly 100 early-phase clinical trials for anti-cancer drugs, said Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR. A distinctive feature of this non-profit, private cancer institute is that it holistically addresses the entire discovery continuum, from basic laboratory studies to early clinical trials. Similarly, Singapore has a highly integrated, comprehensive approach to cancer research.

Leveraging on Singapores integrated approach towards biomedical sciences research, LICR-Singapore will have a unique mode of operations. Under this arrangement, the LICR investigators will have the flexibility to be hosted at the two medical schools and A*STAR research institutes, with A*STARs Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) as its coordination centre. According to Dr. Simpson, all other LICR branches are hosted physically in just one university, institute or hospital. The functional interactions between the medical schools, A*STAR and SICS means that we can have LICR investigators located across the Singaporean research constellation and still be truly integrated.

A joint search committee, co-headed by scientific luminaries, will recruit an internationally renowned clinician-scientist to be Director of LICR-Singapore. The search committee is led by Webster Cavenee, PhD, Director of the LICR San Diego Branch and Distinguished Professor at the University of California San Diego; George Demetri, M.D., Director of the Ludwig Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School; and Edward Holmes, M.D., Executive Deputy Chairman of A*STARs Biomedical Research Council and Executive Chairman of Singapores National Medical Research Council.

LICR-Singapore will have up to five investigators. In addition to having appointments at A*STAR research institutes, these clinician-scientists will receive tenure-track appointments at NUS-YLLSoM and Duke-NUS GMS, positioning them at the interface of academic and clinical research.

In addition to strengthening Singapores capabilities in cancer research and clinical trials, LICRs strong international presence will expand Singapores global scientific network and increase Singapores population of clinician-scientists and investigators. As Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR, said, The proposal to establish the LICR in Singapore is in line with Singapores goal to be an international biomedical hub.

Since last year, A*STAR and the Singapore Health Ministry have launched programmes to build Singapores capabilities in translational and clinical research to complement its strength in basic biomedical research. Disease areas of priority include cancer, metabolic/cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, neuroscience and eye diseases. By taking discoveries at the bench to be effected at the bedside, A*STAR and our partners aim to improve healthcare and benefit patients in Singapore and beyond, added Mr. Lim.


Contact: Sarah L. White, Ph.D.
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

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