Published on 08 Nov 2021

Winner National Clinical Excellence Team Award @NMEA 2021

COVID-19 Research Workgroup

National Clinical Excellence Team Award 2021National Clinical Excellence Team Award 2021 featuring the 4 winners

The much anticipated National Medical Excellence Awards were presented by Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung at a ceremony on Friday 5 November.

Four individuals and two teams received the awards this year, for excellence in the areas of care quality, patient safety, research, as well as education and training. This annual national award recognises the efforts of outstanding clinicians, clinician scientists and other healthcare professionals for their contributions. It acknowledges their achievements in advancing healthcare, improving the standards of patient safety and driving research and education, which ultimately improve people's lives.

LKCMedicine celebrates the achievements of our faculty Associate Professor David Lye, Co-Director of our Infectious Disease research programme, and Dr Barnaby Young, a NHG-LKCMedicine Clinician-Scientist fellow. They are part of a workgroup that received the National Clinical Excellence Team Award 2021. 


2020 presented an unprecedented challenge for healthcare systems across the world. With reported COVID-19 cases rising in Asia, there was an urgent need to understand the novel coronavirus. This led to the establishment of the COVID-19 Research Workgroup (RWG), chaired by Professor Leo Yee Sin, Executive Director, National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), with A/P David Lye, Director, Infectious Disease Research and Training Office, NCID as Deputy Chairman, and advised by Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Chief Health Scientist, Ministry of Health (MOH). The RWG convened on 22 January 2020, a day before Singapore reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case, aimed at conducting studies to better understand COVID-19 and its transmission in Singapore.

A critical component of the RWG’s research was "PROTECT" – a multi-centre prospective study to detect novel pathogens and characterise emerging infections according to a pre-established outbreak drawer protocol developed in 2012 and coordinated by NCID. This protocol served as a foundation platform covering all public hospitals in Singapore, and enabled the collection of clinical data and biological samples for research. The first PROTECT subject was recruited on 24 January 2020, and as of December 2020 over 600 COVID-19 patients had participated.

The RWG has made significant research contributions in the COVID-19 pandemic, including: the development and validation of diagnostic tools, deeper insights and understanding of virus pathogenesis and transmission, biomarkers of disease severity, investigation of COVID-19 clusters in Singapore, characterisation of environmental contamination with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, development and evaluation of potential therapeutic agents, and a greater understanding of the socio-behavioural aspects of the pandemic on healthcare workers and other segments of the community. These research efforts in turn led to improved standards of care, diagnosis, health outcomes, and management of COVID-19 patients both locally and globally.

To-date, the RWG has contributed to some 212 publications. Notably, 23 of these publications are top-tier scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, JAMA, Science, Nature, and Cell.

Importantly, the RWG’s research findings have been translated and incorporated into investigation of outbreaks, infection control measures, and public health policies on quarantine and isolation, as well as the development of diagnosis and treatment methods benefitting patients and the wider community, both locally and internationally. Some of the significant diagnostic tools and treatments against COVID-19 include the world’s first SARS-CoV-2 neutralisation antibody test (cPassTM) to identify people previously infected with the virus and who developed an adaptive immune response; the use of remdesivir and baricitinib in the treatment of COVID-19 patients in Singapore, through the RWG’s participation in international clinical trials led by the United States’ (US) National Institutes of Health and which contributed to national and international treatment guidelines; and the provision of patient samples used to develop the Regeneron monoclonal antibodies, which have since been shown to be effective in treating hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 in the RECOVERY trial in the United Kingdom (UK).

For their instrumental contributions and significant achievements in COVID-19 research, and management of the pandemic response in Singapore and globally, the COVID-19 RWG is awarded the National Clinical Excellence Team Award 2021.