In Focus: Pursuing impactful research

What is impactful research and why does it matter? Research Programme Directors and Co-Directors of LKCMedicine’s flagship research programmes and cross-cutting themes share their thoughts on the impact of their work and what impactful research means to them.

Neuroscience & Mental Health

“Having been with the Neuroscience & Mental Health Programme since the very beginning, it is very satisfying for me to see how nicely we have grown! We are now a full-fledged neuroscience research operation whose impact includes major scientific contributions in neurodegenerative disorders, brain circuitry, the cell biology of the brain, and evidence-based medicine. These efforts promise to be amplified by our recent recruitment of Co-Directors from the National Neuroscience Institute and the Institute of Mental Health, particularly as we extend our efforts into understanding the neuroscience of mental health.”

Director, Professor George Augustine


“The neuroscience and mental health research programme is an important endeavour that brings together clinicians and researchers working in the neuroscience and mental health field from both LKCMedicine and the National Healthcare Group. This programme enables both clinicians and researchers to not only work across the translational research continuum but also to promote a holistic understanding of these complex disorders with the ultimate aim of providing excellent patient care.”

Co-Director, Associate Professor Mythily Subramaniam


“The neuroscience and mental health research programme has been doing wonderful and impactful work, but much more work is needed to understand the operations of our fascinating brains. I believe that while we continue to strive for knowledge expansion, a concerted strategy into research that impacts patient outcomes in the near to mid-term and research into neurological diseases with a unique Asian Pathobiology will be needed.”

Co-Director, Associate Professor Nagaendran Kandiah


Nutrition, Metabolism & Health

“With this new theme, and team, we chart a new framework and move forward by working closely with our clinical colleagues to bring benefits to patients and to empower our community for the betterment of health.”

Director, Associate Professor Yusuf Ali


Population & Global Health

"On the observational side, myself working with a number of colleagues have put together large-scale population studies that allow us to do a deep dive into what might be the genetic, the environmental, and the behavioural factors that are determining chronic disease in our populations. That has led to a range of new insights, for example, identifying a large number of genetic variations and gene pathways that are driving chronic disease. On the translational side, we are using the insights to say, ‘How can we better identify who’s at high risk?’ and ‘How can we better deliver preventative and health promotion care?’ so that we can help people live healthier lives, fulfil their human potential and avoid long-term disease.”

Director, Professor John Chambers


Respiratory & Infectious Diseases

“Infectious Diseases are at the forefront of the news because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For us engaged in ID research in LKCMedicine, beside knowledge creation and scientific excellence, we are engaged in highly translational research that is needed to respond to ID threats and influence medical and public health policies. Alongside societal impact, collaboration with partners in industry and start-up companies will deliver economic impact and value to Singapore.”

Director, Professor Laurent Rénia

"The Respiratory and Infectious Diseases research programme has published more than 90 papers in 2020 and 2021, a significant improvement from over 30 papers in 2018 and 2019. The manuscripts are also published in top clinical and science journals such as New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, JAMA, and many Nature and Science affiliated journals. With the establishment of the research programme in 2021, we hope to undertake more high impact studies combining science and medicine."

Co-Director, Associate Professor David Lye

Skin Diseases & Wound Repair

“It really doesn't matter what you can do for yourself, but what you can do for others. Through innovative research at the interface between basic science and the clinical medicine to address important questions, we strive toward achieving value-adding outcomes that improve lives and advance the society.”

Director, Professor Maurice van Steensel and Co-Director, Associate Professor Tey Hong Liang


Data Science

“The Data Science research theme, being a cross cutting research theme, aims to complement the excellent research being done at LKCMedicine by providing the very best analytical support. This will be achieved by an analytical team from diverse backgrounds to provide a holistic perspective to research problems. The Data Science research theme aims to make impactful contributions that refine the analytical procedures used to generate more insightful and actionable results. A critical partner to making impactful contributions would be our clinical partners who best understand the medical needs. We will form close collaborations with them so that we can best address these needs.”

Programme Director, Assistant Professor Bernett Lee


Developmental Biology & Regenerative Medicine

“Developmental biology investigates the generation, maintenance and repair of the organs of the human body, providing the knowledge base that underpins the emerging field of Regenerative Medicine. Our highly interdisciplinary and collaborative research uses mice, zebrafish and human stem cell-derived mini-organs as experimental models, to elucidate the cellular and molecular processes that will facilitate rejuvenation of organs damaged by ageing and disease. We are supported by a recently awarded MoE Tier 3 grant as well as multiple individual project grants.”

Programme Director, Professor Philip W Ingham FRS


Microbiome Medicine

“Humans are inhabited by trillions of microbes throughout our body, collectively known as the human microbiome. These microbes interact with our bodily systems to impact our health. The microbiome medicine research theme is dedicated to better understanding these microbes and the host-microbe interactions, so as to develop useful biomarkers or therapeutics to improve health or manage diseases. Our researchers have investigated the role of gut dysbiosis in colon cancer, metabolic and respiratory conditions. These works have provided a holistic host-microbial view and a fresh precision-medicine approach to how we can manage these diseases. Impactful research is one that leads to a change in practice beyond publications.”

Programme Director, Associate Professor Sunny Wong


Medical Education

“Like new treatment methods in clinical medicine, medical education needs to be evidence-based rather than based on tradition and convenience. It is well established that many traditional methods of teaching medicine are not effective: educational research has been, and continues to be, essential for finding new and better ways to educate doctors and other health professionals. This is an applied field of research, so impact is measured in several ways. One, research which influences national, regional and international practice and policy. Two, more theoretical and methodological work which paves the way for changing thinking and progressing knowledge, on topics such as the cognitive, social, systems and material influences on learning and performance.”

Programme Director, Professor Jennifer Cleland