New NUS centre to use technologies to address ageing here

SINGAPORE - The National University of Singapore may tap new technologies such as the bio-printing of human tissues and wearable gadgetry that monitors bodily changes as Singapore gears up for an ageing population.

A Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Medical Engineering (CHIME) will be set up by the university later this month to address the needs of the greying demographic, NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan said yesterday.

"The centre will bring ideas and problems from the clinic to the laboratory, and devise solutions that will go to industry and patients," said Prof Tan.

Examples of wearable technology would be in the monitoring of physiological changes in blood pressure and pulse rate. Bio-printing could replace damaged tissues.

By 2030, one in five Singaporeans will be above the age of 65.

The centre, which will receive an initial funding of $15 million, will work with hospitals and partners like the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to develop innovative healthcare technologies to manage cognitive and physical decline.

"Ageing is not only a local problem but a global one. As people get older, they are susceptible to illness and health problems," said Prof Lim Chwee Teck, Provost's Chair Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering. "Hopefully, through the use of technology, we can manage or even reduce this decline."

Speaking at the State of the University Address at the University Cultural Centre in Kent Ridge, Prof Tan noted that the university will need to do more, even with recent success on international university rankings.

The annual address highlights achievements and outlines strategic directions for the future.

According to the recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, NUS ranked among the top 25 universities globally.

Acknowledging that the external environment is changing profoundly and competition is more intense, Prof Tan said: "Our good progress must not make us complacent, but instead drive us to reach for even higher peaks for excellence."

Besides applying research in areas such as health and societal development, the university will look into securing a future for its graduates through internships and project-based learning.

The Centre for Future-ready Gradutes, formerly the NUS Career Centre, will receive an additional $5 million yearly as it provides more personalised career advice.

NUS will also focus its efforts on promoting itself as a hub for entrepreneurship.

The university will expand the number of cities in the NUS Overseas Colleges progamme from six to eight. The programme offers students the opportunity to intern with start-ups around the world while taking classes at partner universities. It will cater to 300 entrepreneurship students from next year, up from 200 this year.