Skip to main content

News & Media

News & Media Front Page

Duke University Partners with National University of Singapore to Establish New Medical School

Duke University Partners with National University of  Singapore to Establish New Medical School
Duke University Partners with National University of  Singapore to Establish New Medical School


Duke Health News Duke Health News

DURHAM, N.C. -- At a ceremony in Singapore Thursday,
officials from Duke University Medical Center and the National
University of Singapore signed an agreement under which the two
institutions will partner to establish a new medical school in

The Singapore government will provide $310 million over
seven years to establish the new school as part of a national
strategy to become a leading center for medical research and
education. The school, which will be called the National
University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, will have a
curriculum patterned after that of the Duke University School
of Medicine. Duke is consistently ranked among the top American
medical schools by U.S. News and World Report.

"I am tremendously impressed by Singapore's vision of
leadership in science and medicine," said Victor J. Dzau, M.D.,
chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and president
and chief executive officer of the Duke University Health
System. "Singapore's education system is one of the best in the
world, and the government has embarked on an aggressive
strategy to become Asia's powerhouse in the biomedical
sciences. I have no doubt they will succeed.

"Joining together as partners represents a valuable
strategic opportunity for Duke to have a global presence in
science, and to apply the very best science to the challenges
of global health."

Last year, the Asian Wall Street Journal reported that the
Singapore government plans to spend more than $3 billion over
five years to accelerate development in the biomedical
sciences. The government is offering incentives to lure
companies, and it is funding research institutes devoted to
genomics, bioinformatics, bioengineering, nanotechnology,
molecular and cell biology, and cancer therapies. The
government is also funding the construction of Biopolis, a
$300-million city-within-a-city that will house academic
research institutes, life science companies and pharmaceutical
research labs.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Deputy Prime
Minister Tony Tan said that the medical school "is established
with the strategic intent to realize Singapore's vision to be a
center of excellence in medical education, clinical research
and health care delivery, and contribute to Singapore's
continued growth." He noted that the government's heavy
investment in these areas has contributed to the growth of the
country's biomedical sciences industry's manufacturing output
to $15.8 billion in 2004, a 33% increase from 2003.

Scientists from Duke will be encouraged to conduct research
at the National University of Singapore Graduate Medical
School, as well as to collaborate with academic and private
research groups at Biopolis, Dzau said.

"The opportunity to form collaborations in this environment
will help us accelerate our efforts in the area of
translational research, which is a strategic priority for
Duke," said Dzau. "The work of translating new discoveries into
useful therapies is as important as the discoveries themselves.
In order for us to reap the benefits of medical science for our
society, we need to be adept at both discovery and translation.
Collaboration and teamwork are essential to the process of

R. Sanders Williams, M.D., dean of the Duke University
School of Medicine, will serve as interim dean of the National
University of Singapore Graduate Medical School. Williams will
lead a committee that will develop a plan for establishing the
school, focusing on tasks such as facilities planning, faculty
recruitment and student admissions. The plan will include the
construction of a new building to house the school, adjacent to
Singapore General Hospital. Williams said the school would
likely admit its first class of students in 2007 in interim
facilities, while the permanent facility is under

"Singapore has made a vast commitment to becoming a leader
in biomedical research, and they also fund an enviable level of
social support and health services for their population,"
Williams said. "The leadership of Duke and the Singapore
government share many values, and we believe our partnership
will lay the foundation for health advances that will have
global impact."

The agreement signed Thursday formalizes a memorandum of
understanding signed by officials from Duke and the Singapore
government in 2003. The government of Singapore approached Duke
about this initiative because of its medical center's
reputation, distinctive educational program, research
activities and faculty resources, according to the Singaporean
Ministry of Education. It expects Duke's involvement to raise
the profile of the new medical school and enhance the standing
of Singapore as a regional center for medical education and
research, the ministry said.

Singapore, with an economy and health system similar to
nations like the United Kingdom and France, has a population of
4.2 million people. Singapore's health care delivery network
consists of two systems. The National Health Group is made up
of four hospitals and two research centers. Three hospitals and
five research centers comprise SingHealth. Together, these two
systems care for about 80 percent of the island residents. The
National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School will
be located adjacent to Singapore General Hospital, the tertiary
and teaching hospital for SingHealth.

News & Media Front Page