A New Fort for Fighting Stroke, which was organised as part of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series started with the opening address by Professor Chng Wee Joo, Vice-Dean, Research, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Prof Chng remarked that Singapore is home to the fastest ageing population in the world that is facing the following healthcare issues: stroke is the leading cause of disability in Singapore; it is also the fourth leading cause of death for the country. ”Our ultimate goal is to translate what we learn from Science and research into real life treatments and solutions for our patients,” affirmed Prof Chng.
“And here is where I would like to extend an invitation for you to join us in this journey of medical discovery and care. Because it is with gifts from donors like yourself that are needed to enable us to map new strategies for prevention and therapy, leading to more effective treatments with fewer side effects.”
The first of the event’s panellist, Associate Prof Raymond Seet, Department of Medicine, NUS Medicine, shared with the audience that the mortality rate from stroke has been successfully reduced from 8.9 per cent in 2005 to 6.3 per cent in 2017 for Singapore. As a result, there are now a lot more stroke survivors in our communities with many of them at home needing help.
A promising doorway into personalising stroke treatment and preventing strokes rests upon unlocking the vast amount of information that may be gleaned from blood clots and urine collected from consenting patients.
Assoc Prof Seet stated, “We are one of the very few places in the world, especially with an Asian setting, where blood and clot samples are being systematically collected. A very detailed understanding and study of biomaterials will be very important because it provides the reasons why strokes occur in the first place in our patients. However, the laws prohibit the exchange and sale of biomaterials, so we have been unable to work with start-ups that see great opportunities in this area. Therefore, we are in a conundrum because we know we have a wealth of information but we are not able to unlock it.”
At this point, Assoc Prof Seet made an appeal for seed funding from philanthropists to overcome this chasm. Exploratory research is needed before specific research projects may be firmed up, only then can the team reach the international level playing field, where very large grants are offered by organisations such as the National Research Foundation.
“Seed funding is a very critical, massive gap that we face before we can compete for the very large grants offered by major funding agencies. This is where we need donors to be agents of change, where we can show leadership in Asia,” said Assoc Prof Seet.
In the area of neuro-protective strategies against stroke, second panellist, Assoc Prof Thiruma Valavan Arumugam, Department of Physiology, NUS Medicine, presented research that showed Vitamin D supplementation before the onset of stroke lowered neural cell death in animal studies. He also touched on published, peer reviewed findings in caloric restriction and intermittent fasting, where the two methods showed reduced neuro cell death and improved life span.
Third panellist Dr Kelvin Phua, Chief Executive Officer, SATA CommHealth and Director and Chair of Programs and Services, Stroke Support Station (S3) shared about the disconnection between patient care in the hospital and home. Family and care givers are not fully prepared when stroke patients are discharged from the hospitals. As an Institute of Public Character, along with the many programmes that are run at S3 grounds, one of its strategies was to create programmes designed by clinicians that can be executed by non-clinicians.
“We collaborated with many clinicians, speech therapists, psychologists and occupational therapists, and they helped us design programmes which non-clinicians and our volunteers can run,” elaborated Dr Chua.
Assoc Prof Lim Kah Leong, Head, Department of Physiology, NUS Medicine, then chaired a short Q&A session before making his closing remarks: “Today, I am particularly delighted that we have a scientist, a clinician and a community advocate in our panel. We have the full spectrum of basic/translational research, interwoven with clinical practice, and outreach to the community. I truly believe that it is our responsibility to bring research back to the community that the funding and donations received for research, is not for individual gain but for the betterment of human health.”
The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The Series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society. The Series was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
For further information on the NUS Greater Good Series, contact the Events team at email@example.com.
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