Research Programmes in NCCS

Signature Programes

Liver Cancer


The NCCS is committed to interrogating the molecular and mechanistic basis of hepatocellular carcinoma through a focused, multidisciplinary approach with the long-term goal to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of this endemic, devastating disease. Our intent is to take critical clinical questions from the bedside of HCC patients to the laboratory and back again to convert fundamental knowledge and technological know-how into powerful tools for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HCC.



The NCCS lymphoma research group is a multi-disciplinary team headed by Prof Lim Soon Thye, Dr Ong Choon Kiat and A/Prof Tan Soo Yong. The team is involved in unravelling new genomic and pathological insights in lymphoma-genesis and translating them into meaningful, novel treatment approaches for our patients through their participation in clinical trials.


Lung, Head and Neck Cancers

The lung and head and neck cancer research programme encompasses a wide array of activities that focus on various aspects of the disease processes studied herein. These range from a public health/public policy approach for eradicating tobacco use to novel imaging techniques and first-in-human clinical trials. The disease processes, though diverse, are united by a multi-disciplinary team, with significant cross-interest in the disease processes and research methodologies.

Comprehensive Programes


The Women’s Cancers Programme encompasses research on gynaecological cancers as well as breast cancer. Our multi-disciplinary team includes medical, surgical and radiation oncologists; gynaecologists; basic and translational scientists; and computational biologists, with our research interests spanning from patient-derived xenografts, genetics and stem cells to novel diagnostics and therapeutic methods, personalized therapy, clinical trials and health outcomes.



The programme identifies several observations of the natural history of GI cancers and the corresponding treatment paradigms employed for patients with different stages of pre-invasive and invasive cancers so as to frame pertinent questions that our scientists and clinicians can investigate and solve.


Sarcomas &
other Rare Malignancies

Clinicians and researchers at the NCCS are actively involved in the research and treatment of rare malignancies, which include soft-tissues and bone sarcomas, gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST), neuroendocrine tumours (NET), melanomas and brain tumours.

Practice-Oriented Programmes

Clinical Trials


Clinical trials play a pivotal role in bringing cutting-edge, novel therapeutic modalities to the clinic in order to recognize the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes. As a leading academic cancer centre, we leverage upon the centre’s high patient volume and strong government support for biomedical research to conducted clinical trials and invest significant resources into ensuring a world-class infrastructure to support all phases of these trials, including the early phase, and first-in-human trials.


Cancer Genetics Services

The Cancer Genetics Service (CGS) is the clinical branch of the broader Inherited Cancer and Rare Disease Translational Research Programme. The mission of CGS is to serve as an expert base in the principles and practice of genetic and genomic medicine as a single platform for research, academic clinical practice, and education for the NCCS. The CGS serves as a self- and physician-referral-based clinical centre that provides expert genetic risk assessment for a broad array of diseases, education, genetic counselling, targeted gene testing, medical management recommendations and appropriate multi-specialty referrals.


Palliative Medicine

The overall aim of palliative care research is to improve the quality of life for these advanced cancer patients and their families, though better symptom control and models of care that can meet their needs. The Division of Palliative Medicine seeks to achieve these goals by conducting research that will inform and improve practice through collaborations with relevant parties.


Clinical Pharmacology

Clinical pharmacology in the NCCS, led by Prof Balram Chowbay, has largely focused on the translational applications of pharmacological knowledge and principles in the optimisation of phamarcotherapy of anticancer agents and the development of more effective and safer treatments in our patients.


Emerging Technologies



In this post-genomics era, high-throughput, large data-generating genomics have gained prominence in biomedical research, especially in the cancer field. Once viewed as a “fishing expedition”, these platforms have now provided us with unique opportunities to identify and generate hypotheses about disease and treatment response biomarkers, thereby facilitating our understanding of various disease and treatment response pathways. Nearly every investigator at the NCCS employs various high-throughput genomics technologies to develop novel biomarkers for tracking cancer prognoses as well as for assessing treatment responses and/or elucidating the molecular mechanism(s) of the cancer-of-interest. 


Mouse Models

Animal models offer an excellent experimental platform for investigating the complex mechanisms of tumourigenesis. Researchers at the NCCS are performing studies in mice that cover the entire spectrum: from the initial stages of some of the most common cancers in Singapore to testing new treatment methodologies.



Each of us has a core community of bacterial strains that lives in and on our body – like a personal set of microbes that remains fairly stable over decades. Moreover, in each person, this comprises approximately 1.5kg of our body weight, which suggests that the gut microbiome is equivalent to about 10% of the total protein or fat content in a normal human. Our microbiome is not really “something we have” but is part of who we are, helping to define each of us, both as an individual and an ecosystem. Thus, in a holistic view, each person should be considered as a complex ecosystem, implying that we must fulfil each of our biochemical and biological needs to ensure survival. This view also implies that the guy microbiome may contribute to our health by affecting numerous organ functions in the body.


Imaging and Biophotonics

Biophotonic techniques continue to play important roles in clinical cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment and are also integral tools in many research projects. The imaging and biophotonics technology platforms available at the NCCS range from basic and animal systems for research to state-of-the-art facilities for clinical applications. They also provide technology platforms for innovation in our disease programmes, as we apply emerging biophotonic technologies to cancer diagnosis and therapy, from basic to translation to clinical studies.


Proton Therapy

The NCCS plans to set up a state-of-the-art proton therapy facility within its new building in the Outram Campus in 2022. This will make the NCCS and Singapore the first to offer proton therapy in South-east Asia.


Cancer Therapeutics

Screening programmes, better diagnostic sensitivity, and biomarker-guided precision oncology have improved the outlook for several types of cancer, such as breast, colorectal and prostate. However, these advances have not achieved in all cancers. Advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and drug resistant cancers continue to be therapeutic challenges that reduce patient survival. Against this backdrop, several laboratories in the NCCS are focused on developing new therapeutics to address these grim clinical situations.

Find out more about the Research Programmes HERE.