July 2, 1998
Paul S. Lietman, M.D., Ph.D., Wellcome Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and professor of medicine, pediatrics, pharmacology and molecular sciences at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has been named director of research for Johns Hopkins Singapore (JHS), the new Asian medical center under joint development by the Singapore government and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
In his new role, Lietman will be responsible for helping identify, implement and oversee JHS's research initiatives, which form part of its three-fold mission of research, patient care and physician education.
"I'm extremely excited and enthusiastic about helping build something with such incredible potential as Johns Hopkins Singapore," Lietman said. "We now can extend our research interests in novel ways to address the specific health problems of East Asia while advancing basic and clinical science."
Modeled after Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, JHS was established earlier this year in a bid to make Singapore a premier medical hub in the Pacific Rim. Plans will focus on developing new drugs, new treatments and joint business ventures in delivering care. An independent board will be responsible for managing research activities, guided by a scientific advisory board comprising eminent scientists from the United States, Singapore and other nations, Lietman said.
There also will be ample opportunities for research into diseases that are uncommon in the United States, but plague millions of people elsewhere, according to Lietman. "Tuberculous and hepatitis are two of the leading killers in Asia," he said. "We now have an unparalleled opportunity to study and develop ways to treat them more effectively on site in Asia and working directly with affected populations."
"Dr. Lietman will have the very critical job of transplanting the grand tradition of Hopkins' research into another country and ensuring that it flourishes there as it has here," says JHS CEO Steven Thompson. "We are confident that Dr. Lietman will produce the same success in Singapore that he has in the United States."
According to Bart Chernow, M.D., vice dean for research, technology and corporate relations for Johns Hopkins Medicine, details of the management, organizational structure and research priorities of Lietman's division are still evolving, but those under consideration include a study of the genetic foundation of diseases prevalent in Asians. "We've solicited proposals from our faculty and the response has been very encouraging. We will evaluate each for its merit, relevance to the region and potential interaction with the National University of Singapore faculty," he says. "And we should have some decisions by summer's end."
Lietman emphasized that the research and clinical trials conducted in Singapore will be carried out under the same high standards as those used in the United States.
"We will employ the highest standards in all of our research protocols," he said. "The government of Singapore is establishing regulations comparable to our own Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health. In addition, we will adhere to Hopkins' regulations and policies so that studies done there will come under the same level of scrutiny and have the same credibility as those done in the United States."
Lietman received his M.D. degree from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed a residency program in pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. After a two-year period as clinical associate at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders and a year at the Hospital for Sick Children in London, England, he returned to Hopkins and obtained a Ph.D. in physiological chemistry. He was the 1976 recipient of the W. Barry Wood Award, which is given annually by the medical students to the outstanding preclinical teacher at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as well as the Professors Award for Excellence in both preclinical and clinical teaching in 1985. He has been the Director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and has held the Wellcome Chair in Clinical Pharmacology for 26 years. He also has chaired the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee for 29 years.