The SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Center partnership has announced that a $2.5 million Tanoto Foundation Professorship in Medical Oncology has been conferred to Associate Prof. Lim Soon Thye, head and senior consultant of the Division of Medical Oncology at the National Cancer Center Singapore and Assistant Dean at Duke-NUS Medical School.
The Tanoto Foundation Professorship is part of a $3 million gift from the Tanoto Foundation. The remaining amount will be used to set up the Tanoto Foundation Initiative in Asian Lymphoma Research. The gift was equally matched by the Singapore government.
Lim is co-founder of the Asian Lymphoma Study Group, an initiative that brings together researchers from around Asia to collaborate on Asia-related lymphoma studies. He is also the founder of the Singapore Lymphoma Study Group, a similar initiative to bring together researchers in basic and translational research for lymphoma.
The group has set up clinical and pathological database of more than 3,000 patients in Singapore and a tissue bank comprising over 1,000 blood samples, as well as nearly 500 frozen tissue specimens.
Lim’s research is currently focused on lymphoid malignancies, particularly on T-cell and NK/T-cell lymphomas that are more frequently diagnosed among people of Asian origin. There are no standard approved treatments for these lymphomas, and conventional chemotherapy can only cure about half of these patients.
These resources have allowed the associated researchers to examine lymphoma’s molecular development. The Professorship recognizes Lim’s outstanding work as well as his academic leadership with his pioneering work on the genetic basis of Asia-prevalent cancers. The funding will allow Lim to advance his research into non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which ranks among the top 10 cancers in Singapore.
“The incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has increased dramatically worldwide, especially in Asia, but diagnostic and treatment outcomes remain poor. This Professorship will advance the search for novel diagnostic strategies, drugs and treatments that can improve survival for lymphoma patients,” said Prof. Soo Khee Chee, SingHealth’s Deputy CEO of Research & Education and Duke-NUS Medical School’s senior vice dean of clinical, academic and faculty affairs, in a press release.
Lim has become well-known over the past few years with work published in major international journals and with significant leadership roles. He is currently the lead investigator of the National Lymphoma Translational Research Programme, funded by the National Medical Research Council, and is also one of the principal investigators of the blood cancer (T-cell lymphoma) genomics project, at the International Cancer Genomics Consortium.
“The Foundation is pleased to support innovative work to find remedies for heart diseases and cancer which are leading causes of adult mortality. We are hopeful that Asia-focussed lymphoma research will promote breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment, thereby improving the quality of life for patients and their families,” said Sukanto Tanoto, founder of the Tanoto Foundation and chairman of its Board of Trustees.