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Singapore, UK Researchers Discuss New Ways to Fight Microbes, Prevent Vision Loss.

Singapore, Mar 16, 2009 - (ACN Newswire) - Prof Sir David Lane, Chairman of A*STAR's Biomedical Research Council and Chief Scientist of Cancer Research UK, well known as the co-discoverer of the tumour suppressor gene, p53, will deliver the keynote address at the symposium organised jointly by A*STAR's Bioinformatics Institute, the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the British High Commission at Biopolis today. His address will highlight a novel method of producing antibodies against the Dengue virus.

Joining him are 18 researchers from leading institutes across Singapore and the UK, who will present their latest findings on ways to combat the tiny yet dangerous agents of debilitating diseases such as SARS, Hepatitis B and tuberculosis. Dr Chan Tat Keong, Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), is one of the speakers. He will speak about how SNEC's current infection control practices have brought the post-surgery infection rate at SNEC to amongst the lowest in the world, and how they have benefited over 130,000 patients in Singapore. Infection is a serious complication after cataract surgery as it frequently leads to permanent visual loss.

Microbes bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that are resistant to traditional antibiotics have been increasing at unprecedented rates in recent years, threatening to cause global outbreaks of disease. However, to date, only a handful of new drugs have been established to effectively target these 'superbugs'. This symposium will present opportunities for scientists and clinicians to discuss topics ranging from the development of novel drugs and protocols to the design of novel materials for microbefree hospital environments and discover new ways of addressing this threat to global healthcare.

The two-day symposium is the 24th to be held here under the auspices of the "UK-Singapore Partners in Science" Programme. Besides showcasing the latest and best in antimicrobial research, it is intended to foster international and interdisciplinary collaborations which will result in new synergies for healthcare. Said Dr Chandra Verma, Senior Research Scientist at the Bioinformatics Institute and symposium coordinator, "This symposium aims to bring together researchers at the forefront of infectious disease, who will exchange new knowledge and discoveries, as well as foster collaborations on novel antimicrobial therapies."

Said Ms Amanda Brooks, Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission, "The long-standing UK-Singapore scientific relationship is growing from strength to strength, based on very close ties between outstanding institutions and individuals in our two countries. Today's event is an important catalyst to stimulate further collaboration and progress in the major health challenge of tackling lifethreatening infectious diseases. I am pleased that following the symposium, A*STAR and the UK's Medical Research Council (MRC) will be announcing a call for joint research proposals in this field."

The A*STAR-MRC Grant Call will inject S$6 million in fresh funding for collaborations between UK and Singaporean scientists on infectious diseases. It is expected to open at the end of this month.

About the "UK-Singapore Partners in Science" Programme

The "UK-Singapore Partners in Science" Programme was originally launched as a yearlong campaign by His Royal Highness The Duke of York in 2004. It aimed to raise the profile of UK science and encourage partnership between UK and Singaporean researchers. The campaign was such a success that in July 2005 the UK and Singapore made a longer term commitment to increase scientific collaboration between our two nations, focusing on priority research areas of mutual strength. Since then, a series of joint symposiums has been held across a broad range of topics including stem cells, immunology and drug discovery, involving some 4,000 participants, 180 UK speakers and 100 speakers from Singapore and the surrounding region of Southeast Asia. For more information about the British High Commission in Singapore, please visit http://ukinsingapore.fco.gov.uk/en/.

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

A*STAR is Singapore's lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. A*STAR actively nurtures public sector research and development in Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, with a particular focus on fields essential to Singapore's manufacturing industry and new growth industries. It oversees 22 research institutes, consortia and centres, and supports extramural research with the universities, hospital research centres and other local and international partners. At the heart of this knowledge intensive work is human capital. Top local and international scientific talent drive knowledge creation at A*STAR research institutes. The Agency also sends scholars for undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral training in the best universities, a reflection of the high priority A*STAR places on nurturing the next generation of scientific talent. For more information about A*STAR, please visit www.a-star.edu.sg.

About the Bioinformatics Institute (BII)

The Bioinformatics Institute (BII) is a member of the Agency for Science and Technology Research (A*STAR) Biomedical Sciences Institutes. Funded by the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) of A*STAR, BII was set up in July 2001 as part of the national initiative to foster and advance biomedical research and human capital for avibrant knowledge-based Singapore. With a multi-disciplinary focus and collaborative outlook, BII recognises the need for depth and breadth in all its activities for building a thriving world-class biomedical research, graduate training and development hub in Singapore. In addition, BII is proactively involved in building a national resource centre in bioinformatics to meet the evolving needs of the scientific community in Singapore. For more information on BII, please visit: www.bii.a-star.edu.sg

About the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC)

The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) was incorporated in 1989 and commenced operations in 1990. It is the designated center within the public sector healthcare network to spearhead and coordinate the provision of specialized ophthalmologic service with emphasis on quality education and research. Since its inception in 1990, SNEC has achieved rapid growth and currently manages an annual workload of 250,000 outpatient visits, 14,000 major operations and 13,000 laser procedures. Nine subspecialties have been established to provide specialized eye care services and treatment for a wide spectum of eye conditions from comprehensive to tertiary levels: Cataract and Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Cornea, Glaucoma, Neuro- Ophthalmology, Oculoplastic and Aesthetic Eyeplastic, Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, Refractive Surgery, Ocular Inflammation and Immunology Service and Vitro-Retina.

The vigorous quality assurance programme in SNEC has been internationally recognized as a cost effective method for monitoring standards. Every single eye operation is videotaped for teaching purposes and the monitoring of outcomes. Surgical results are audited and benchmarked against international standards. For more information, please visit www.snec.com.sg.

About the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI)

The Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) is the main research institute for ophthalmic and vision research in Singapore. As the research institute of the Singapore National Eye Centre, SERI is directly affiliated to the National University of Singapore, and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, and collaborates with the foremost institutions worldwide.

Several well equipped specialised laboratories and research clinics, a clinical trails pharmacy, and a dedicated team of clinical and research scientists drawn from leading institutions around the world have culminated in SERI being awarded S$25 million under the Translational and Clinical Research (TCR) Flagship Programme. Clinical trails concentrate on cataract, glaucoma, corneal transplantation, pterygium and retinal surgery trails, pharmaceutical and ocular drug delivery trails, visual psychophysics studies and refractive surgery and myopia clinical trails. These are complemented by basic and applied laboratory research projects which study the genetic, cell biological and molecular basis of eye. Together with large scale epidemiological research they have brought international acclaim to SERI through the publication of over 100 important scientific publications a year. For more information, please visit www.seri.com.sg.

For queries & clarifications, please contact:

Ms Adela Foo

Senior Officer, Corporate Communications

AGENCY FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH (A*STAR)

DID: (+65) 6826 6218

Fax: (+65) 6478 9593

Email: adela_foo@a-star.edu.sg

Mr Ravi Chandran Corporate Communications / Public Relations

SINGAPORE NATIONAL EYE CENTRE

Contact no: (+65) 8121 8569

Email: ravi.chandran@snec.com.sg

Source: JCN http://www.japancorp.net

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Date:Mar 18, 2009
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