At a briefing today in Singapore, the Singapore government and Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) announced final agreements to develop Singapore's first private medical facility combining research and teaching with clinical services, modeled after Hopkins' famed center in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
The specific entities formed by this agreement are:
- Johns Hopkins Singapore Pte. Ltd (JHS) to carry out collaborative research and medical education with Singapore institutions, and
- Johns Hopkins Singapore Clinical Services Pte Ltd (JHSCS), to provide health care services for complex medical conditions in the region.
According to Liew Heng San, managing director of Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB), "JHS fits in perfectly with EDB's vision to develop Singapore into an intellectual hub, a plan announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan in September. Johns Hopkins will help to raise standards in medical research and education through collaboration with our local institutions, and also provide world-class medical services to our people, our clients from the region and beyond."
"Johns Hopkins Singapore is an important milestone for Johns Hopkins Medicine," said Edward D. Miller, M.D., Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO and dean of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Both Hopkins and Singapore have much to gain, and so do our patients. In January, we laid the groundwork for a Hopkins presence in Singapore, and we are now building the structure for what will become a medical, research and education hub in this very important part of the world. What makes Hopkins number one is the way it links research and teaching to its dedication to patients, and that is what will make JHS strong too."
He cited several reasons for the agreement with Singapore. "The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the National University Hospital (NUH) share the Hopkins commitment to the common goals of education, training and research," Miller said. "On a more practical level, Singapore has a very impressive and extensive infrastructure already in place. Transportation systems are very adequate. Singapore's per capita income is second only to Japan's for this region, and its citizens tend to be educated. Most importantly, Singapore has expressed a strong commitment to become a regional medical hub and is willing to provide the resources to accomplish this objective."
At the briefing, Steven J. Thompson, CEO of both JHS and JHSCS, as well as Johns Hopkins Medicine's vice dean for administration, revealed details of initial JHS projects. The R&D center, expected to start activities in April 1999 under the direction of Paul S. Lietman, M.D., Ph.D., Wellcome Professor of Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins, will focus on diseases prevalent in this region, such as cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, liver and stomach. Research projects already selected are:
(See Appendix for further details on JHS research initiatives.)
- Cancer treatment - Develop a new approach to treating nasopharyngeal cancer that selectively targets and destroys the viral proteins within tumors.
- Cancer diagnosis - Develop a test for tumor-specific or associated antigens to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers common among Asians.
- Artificial liver - Design an artificial liver and develop new drug and gene delivery systems for treating liver disorders.
- Urology - Create a telerobotic operating system to teach laparoscopic procedures and to treat patients with urological disorders. Create a "virtual reality workbench" with which surgeons can simulate an operation prior to surgery.
- DataWeaver - Design a system to integrate patient information, treatment and clinical progress.
In addition to Hopkins scientists, JHS will draw upon the region's top research talents and is expected to attract Singaporean researchers currently overseas back to Singapore. JHS expects to raise additional R&D grants from industry, with Singapore benefiting through co-owning intellectual property rights for new discoveries made with its investment in the new center.
Also under Lietman's direction, educational initiatives for JHS planned to start in the second quarter of 1999 include:
- A joint Johns Hopkins-NUS Ph.D. program in basic sciences to train some of the region's promising scientists.
- A master's program in clinical research currently not available in Singapore.
- Continuing medical education courses for medical professionals in the region.
- Other collaborations, including postdoctoral training programs, and medical student and faculty exchange programs.
JHS Clinical Services will begin operations in the first quarter of 1999 in two wards leased at the Kent Ridge Wing at NUH. Directed by Martin D. Abeloff, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, clinical services initially will focus on oncology (the study, research and treatment of cancer), eventually expanding into other clinical disciplines with the goal of building a dedicated hospital.
"The intent of JHS Clinical Services is not to compete with physicians here and in the region, but to augment and complement the care they currently provide and assist them in developing new areas of clinical expertise, as well as to give them the opportunity to participate in research programs specifically oriented toward the unique medical problems their patients face. Everyone will benefit from this partnership," said Miller.
JHS Clinical Services equity partners include Singapore's Economic Development Board Investments (EDBI), VISTA Healthcare, Arcasia Land and Johns Hopkins International LLC.
(See Attachment for further details on JHS Clinical Services activities.)
Attachment A: Johns Hopkins Singapore: Who's Who and Research Projects at a Glance
Research & Development
Chief Executive Officer: Steven J. Thompson, Vice Dean for Administration, JHU SOM
Director: Paul S. Lietman, M.D., Ph.D., Wellcome Professor of Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins
Produce research advances leading to patents, products, spin-off companies, international conferences in Singapore, papers in international journals, collaboration with industry and other research institutions
Develop a new approach to treating nasopharyngeal carcinoma (cancer of that part of the pharynx which lies above the level of the soft palate) and other Epstein-Barr virus-related cancers. The treatment selectively targets and destroys the viral proteins within tumours. This cancer is particularly prevalent and fatal in Southeast Asia.
Richard F. Ambinder, M.D., Ph.D., Oncologist, Johns Hopkins; Qian Tao, Ph.D., Oncologist, Johns Hopkins
Develop a test for tumour-specific or associated antigens to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers common among Asians, including cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, liver and stomach.
Headed by: Daniel W. Chan, Ph.D., Assoc. Professor of Pathology and Oncology, Johns Hopkins
Design an artificial liver. Develop new drug and gene delivery systems for treating liver disorders.
Headed by: Kam W. Leong, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineer, Johns Hopkins
Urology Create a telerobotic operating system to teach physicians in Singapore laparoscopic procedures and to treat patients with urological disorders. Scientists will create a "virtual reality workbench" with which surgeons can simulate an operation prior to surgery.
Headed by: Louis R. Kavoussi, M.D., Professor of Urology, Johns Hopkins
DataWeaver Design a system, called DataWeaver, that integrates patient information, treatment and clinical progress into a single, comprehensive computer program. This project is a collaboration between Hopkins and the Center for Information-Enhanced Medicine (CieMed) of the National University of Singapore.
Raghu Raghavan, Ph.D., Director, Center for Information-Enhanced Medicine, National University of Singapore
Attachment B: Johns Hopkins Singapore: Who's Who in JHS Clinical Services
Director: Martin D. Abeloff, M.D., Director, Johns Hopkins Oncology Center
Chief Executive Office: Steve Thompson, Vice Dean for Administration, JHU SOM
Chief Operating Office: James P. F. Chou, a hospital administrator with extensive experience in the region
Assistant Program Director, Staff Oncologist: Enser W. Cole III, M.D., Oncologist, Johns Hopkins