Translational R&D hub to boost clinical diagnostics

Agilent and NUH partnership builds NUS' strengths in translational medicine

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Agilent technologies
(L-R) Professor Tan Eng Chye, President of National University of Singapore; Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health; Mike McMullen, CEO, Agilent Technologies; Associate Professor Eugene Liu, Chief Executive Officer, National University Hospital Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS), Agilent Technologies, a global leader in life sciences, diagnostics, and applied chemical markets, and National University Hospital (NUH), have established Singapore’s first integrated translational R&D hub that aims to leverage biochemical innovation and research data analytic to develop new methods of translating clinical research into clinical diagnostics.

The NUS-Agilent hub for translation and capture was officially launched by Benjamin Ong, director of Medical Services of the Ministry of Health, at the opening ceremony held in NUS. The research hub, which comprises laboratories located in NUS and NUH, claims to provide 1,000 square meters of research space to facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations among scientists, clinicians and industry partners to translate biochemical research into clinical applications. Through research in areas such as lipidomic and synthetic biology, NUS and Agilent hope to develop innovative ways that enhance the accuracy of clinical diagnostics based on data obtained from patients’ blood samples. According to press statement, the initial research focus areas are cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which account for 30% of all deaths in Singapore in 2017 and affected 440,000 Singaporean adults in 2014, respectively.

The NUS-Agilent Hub aims to be a global premier one-stop research Center for informing clinical testing using emerging technologies and translational studies to provide greater insight and accuracy to clinical biochemistry testing. This collaboration between NUS, Agilent and NUH aims to represent a unique and innovative approach to conducting joint research into important health issues and medical science. The ‘hub and satellite model’ is said to allow research to be conducted centrally, Singapore-based, but shared broadly, both locally, regionally as well as globally through key partnerships and alliances supported by NUS and Agilent.

NUS president professor Tan Eng Chye said, “This partnership with Agilent and NUH builds on NUS’ strengths and focus in biomedical sciences and translational medicine, the state-of-art mass spectrometry technology at Agilent and clinical expertise at NUH. We are excited about this unique opportunity to further extend our longstanding collaborative relationship with Agilent and NUH into the area of clinical diagnostics, which could bring about positive societal and economic impact to Singapore.”

“We’re extremely honored to be working with one of the world’s top research universities and world-renowned principal investigators in developing the next generation of scientific discovery for societal benefit in life sciences,” said Mike McMullen, CEO, and President, Agilent Technologies. “This type of innovative collaboration will not only deliver significant benefit to Agilent and our global customers but importantly also to the University, the people of Singapore and eventually people around the world who will benefit as a result of the work that will be conducted at NUS.”

“The population we care for in NUH is changing rapidly. We need new diagnostics to be tested and scaled up when successful. This tripartite partnership enables NUH to apply emerging technologies from the university and industry to improve clinical laboratory testing. Validating biomedical breakthroughs from NUS and translating these to clinical care will benefit patients,” said Eugene Liu, chief executive officer at NUH.

The NUS-Agilent Hub is said to be a continuation of an established partnership that has existed for many years between NUS and Agilent. By extending its substantial investments in R&D with Agilent’s work alongside top universities like NUS, Agilent can accelerate its mission of improving the human condition.