Big push for science and tech research

Health and biomedical sciences

A novel prosthetic heart valve, which can be used for the treatment of a serious heart valve disorder.
A novel prosthetic heart valve, which can be used for the treatment of a serious heart valve disorder.

In the next five years, $19 billion will be pumped into scientific and technological research under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan. Funding will be prioritised in four key areas where Singapore has a competitive edge or which meet national needs. The Straits Times looks at how these four areas will transform Singapore in the next five years.

In a medical emergency, every second counts. Having an ambulance near you can make the difference between life and death.

Singaporeans may soon benefit from reduced emergency response times, thanks to state-of-the-art computer modelling.

A collaboration between the Singapore General Hospital and Singapore Civil Defence Force has produced mathematical models that can predict locations where ambulances are more likely to be needed, potentially reducing response times by 10 per cent.

This is one example of the tangible improvements in healthcare that $4 billion of funding over the next five years aims to achieve.

This constitutes the largest slice of 21 per cent from the $19 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 funding programme for the next five years.

Singaporeans can also look forward to increased chances of survival and recovery from a whole array of "top killers" such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

For example, the Singapore Gastric Cancer Consortium has developed state-of-the-art technology for the early detection and treatment of gastric cancer, which hits one in five Chinese men here.

Translating biomedical research into healthcare that saves the man on the street is a time-consuming process.

Singapore has come a long way, from the initial establishment of biomedical research capabilities in the early 2000s to more applied clinical research in subsequent years, and most recently towards engagement with industry to bring healthcare to the bedside.

Today, it enjoys an extensive biomedical and healthcare infrastructure, including research-intensive hospitals. RIE2020 will use this as a platform to foster even closer partnerships between research and healthcare institutions.

Lin Yangchen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline 'Health and biomedical sciences'. Print Edition | Subscribe