The Division of Medical Sciences has evolved in the last decade to one that is completely focused on the mission of translating biological discoveries into the clinic. The primary objective is to maintain the plasticity and fluidity between the clinic (bedside) and the research laboratories (bench). As a commitment to this process, all the labs in this division are led by clinician-scientists who have acive clinical duties in the different oncology disciplines (surgery, medical and radiation oncology), while leading investigations in the lab to understand and influence clinical practice. These activities include biomarker discovery in tumor, blood and other tissues for conventional, targeted and immunotherapy, which are often inter-linked with existing clinical trials ongoing at NCCS. Several investigators are involved in the identification of novel therapeutic approaches or streamlining existing strategies, using available models or more specific patient-derived models. Understanding mechanisms that result from genomic alterations could also potentially direct future diagnostic and treatment approaches. The latter is especially relevant in the careful allocation of newer, expensive therapies involving immune-oncology and proton therapy.
The division comprises 12 clinician-scientists, most of whom are supported through the NMRC talent awards. They encompass the gamut of cancer types including colorectal, lung, head and neck, liver, nasopharyngeal, blood and breast cancers. They include labs specializing in hereditary cancer syndromes and cell-based therapies. Apart from focused research for each group, many of the groups have programs that cut across labs and disease-specialties to address more fundamental questions that we are faced with in managing patients with lethal cancers. These involve extensive collaborations with other healthcare institutions and the greater scientific community in Singapore, including the A-star research institutes. Through individual relationships with previous mentors and collaborators, the division has also established extensive links with a number of prestigious international institutions, with whom we work very closely to answer some of the most difficult questions in oncology.
The team is deeply committed to education and nurturing the next generation of clinician-scientists. Apart from functioning as formal mentors to junior-clinician scientists, much of the faculty host junior clinicians and students for research attachments and extended stints. These are especially important to inspire the next generation of clinicians to continue on this journey to bridge the translation of basic biology to the clinic.
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