NTU Singapore opens two new AI-focused research centers for early disease prediction


The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has launched two new research centers that will leverage AI and data analytics to detect disease.

The Center for Biomedical Informatics, which opened last week, seeks to develop “super algorithms” that predict and personalize the treatment of various diseases. It will support LKCMedicine’s five flagship research programs: population health, respiratory medicine and infectious diseases, skin diseases and wound healing, neurosciences and mental health, and nutrition, metabolism and health.

Meanwhile, the Dementia Research Center was inaugurated on Monday. The center will work on a five-year longitudinal study to shed light on Asian dementia, as well as develop AI-based diagnostic solutions to accurately predict or assess the progression of dementia.


With state-of-the-art equipment and the expertise of 15 researchers, the Center for Biomedical Informatics “will identify trends, patterns and anomalies in the data to derive insights that will help researchers and clinicians make more informed decisions.” which will result in the potential discovery and development of powerful new methods for diagnosing and treating diseases, including mental disorders.

Another goal of the center is to advance biomedical research by performing biomedical data analyzes for the university’s scientific community. He plans to hold workshops and courses to help increase the biomedical informatics capacity of Singaporean medical researchers.

Meanwhile, for the Dean of LKCMedicine and Professor Joseph Sung, NTU’s initiative to open a dementia research center is “very timely as the world’s population continues to age”. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people with dementia worldwide is expected to double by 2050, from about 55 million today. NTU Singapore noted from various studies that mental status affects Western and Asian populations differently.

“Since most of the existing literature on dementia is based on the Western population, it is worthwhile for the university, led by its medical school, to focus on how dementia affects the Asian population and to develop strategies tailored to this group.These findings could contribute to national dementia health policy and dementia health economics,” he said.


Among the ongoing projects of the Center for Biomedical Informatics is a collaboration with the Institute of Mental Health and Auckland University of Technology to develop machine learning methods to better detect and predict mental illnesses in young people. at risk.

They will analyze diverse datasets by applying advanced neural networks – a machine learning technique – that could lead to the discovery of new biomarkers and risk factors for screening mental health conditions. These findings would further lead to the development of super algorithms to predict people at risk for mental disorders. It would also facilitate the development of personalized modeling to better recognize the individual factors that trigger mental illnesses.

The center has also worked on projects in the field of cancer treatment. So far, they have produced a prognosis-associated breast cancer biomarker, which has become their basis for developing novel therapeutic strategies to discover drugs capable of reversing biomarker expression patterns.

At the same time, the Dementia Research Center is conducting its Biomarkers and Cognitive Impairment Study, which aims to explore the inner workings of the brain of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Among these patients, the risk of developing dementia increases by 10 to 15 percent each year, which is why the center is focusing on MCI to facilitate early detection and intervention, according to director Nagaendran Kandiah. The center is currently recruiting around 1,5,000 Singaporean patients with MCI between the ages of 30 and 95 for the five-year study.


Explaining what they intend to do at the Center for Biomedical Informatics, Wilson Goh, its co-director, said: “[W]We make sense of huge volumes of biological data. We want to work towards achieving the three “Ps” in clinical application: prediction, prevention and personalization. By building biologically informed models through data analysis and super algorithms, we could create personalized information for the patient. Such models could enable early and accurate detection and prevention of chronic diseases and acute medical emergencies.”

Commenting on the launch of the Dementia Research Center, NTU President and Professor Subra Suresh said, “The Dementia Research Center promises to offer us new avenues to develop a better understanding of neurodegenerative diseases. This center’s research will also point to potential pathways to ensure a healthier aging population and benefit NTU’s efforts to shape the future of medicine, continue to improve medical education, and transform healthcare.”


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