New $100 million Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore established by NTU, A*STAR and NHG
NTU Prof Ng Wun Jern, Dean of CoE, signing the MOU with A*STAR and NHG, witnessed by NTU Provost Freddy Boey and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong
The wheels are in motion to create a new centre for innovation for rehabilitation medicine. Some $100 million will be committed to establish the Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore. The Institute, also known as the RRIS (pronounced “RISE”), is a collaboration between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National Healthcare Group (NHG). A Memorandum of Understanding which formalised the collaboration, was signed at the Singapore Health and Biomedical Congress (SHBC) 2014 Opening Ceremony this morning, and witnessed by Guest-of-Honour, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
RRIS will leverage on the expertise of scientists, clinicians and engineers to develop innovative technology solutions for better patient outcomes across the healthcare ecosystem. Key areas of study include stroke and neurological rehabilitation, clinical robotics and biomechanics, as well as the development of computer games for rehabilitation.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability globally. There are up to 9,000 new stroke cases in Singapore yearly, with numbers expected to rise with a rapidly ageing population. An estimated one in three stroke survivors requires various types of rehabilitation, which can include the use of robotics or advanced mechanical exoskeletons to help patients regain function in their limbs.
A*STAR will provide a wide range of expertise in Biomedical sciences and Physical sciences, including its Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), wearable and neuroimaging technologies from the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R). (More details on BCI are available in Annex A).
“In the past, doctors and engineers worked separately on different goals. Today, this model has changed. Doctors help provide valuable information to engineers who will then use it to design complex algorithms to make technology work in a clinical setting. Our BCI technology was developed based on such partnerships,” said Dr Guan Cuntai, Head of Neural & Biomedical Technology Department I2R, A*STAR.
NHG, through its flagship Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), will lend clinical expertise from Singapore’s largest team of rehabilitation physicians. A multi-disciplinary team of therapists will also provide expertise to bring research from bench to bedside, and develop practical solutions for patients.
“The future of rehabilitation medicine is very exciting as we continue to remain relevant, proactive and empathetic advocates for our patients and their families. We are focused on harnessing new technologies to achieve transformational outcomes for our patients, their families and our staff,” said Associate Professor Chan Kay Fei, senior consultant and former Head of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at TTSH.
Scientists at NTU will play a key role in translating basic science and clinical findings into real-life applications, through the use of cutting-edge technology.
NTU Provost, Professor Freddy Boey, said that NTU’s strength in robotics and biomedical applications will contribute greatly to the inter-disciplinary research conducted by RRIS. The Institute can also leverage on the world-class research expertise from NTU’s new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine which has NHG as its primary clinical training partner.
“Inter-disciplinary research, by combining medicine and biomedical engineering, is the way forward if we want to effectively tackle the health challenges of an increasingly ageing population. Together with our partners, we are looking to develop innovative treatments for patients recovering from illnesses such as stroke; new ways for the ageing population to stay healthy; and to treat or delay the onset of mental diseases such as dementia.
RRIS builds on existing partnerships in rehabilitation innovation. In the past six years, NTU and NHG have successfully collaborated on eight projects in the area of rehabilitative care. This includes the development of a robotic exoskeleton to help stroke patients recover their balance; and an upper limb rehabilitation robot that assists patients according to their different stages of recovery (for more information, see Annex B).
“R&D that leads to innovative outcomes is a key strategy for economic growth and for enhancing lives for Singaporeans. This collaboration is an example of that strategy at work. We are laying the foundations for a national ecosystem that will allow clinical and industry partners to tap on the diverse research capabilities across public and private sectors to create improved solutions that will improve rehabilitation outcomes for patients,” said Dr Tan Geok Leng, Executive Director, Science and Engineering Research Council, A*STAR.
This is the second landmark clinical research collaboration between the three parties, following the launch of the Skin Research Institute of Singapore (SRIS) in 2013.
“The Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore is a strong follow up to the SRIS – a joint collaboration between A*STAR, Nanyang Technological University and the National Skin Centre, barely a year ago,” said Associate Professor Lim Tock Han, Deputy Group CEO (Education & Research), NHG. “We are honoured to be able to build on the esteemed partnership with our valued partners in research once again.”
Some 3,000 delegates from Asia, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, witnessed the signing of the MOU. They are in town for the two-day SHBC 2014, which is themed “Redefining Healthcare for the Future – Educating, Innovating & Leading for Progress”. The Congress held at the Max Atria@Singapore Expo, provides a platform for healthcare professionals to exchange knowledge and ideas to improve community care.
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About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg