In 2001, a Medical Education Review Panel chaired by Lord Oxburgh of England evaluated the plan and recommended that Singapore establish a graduate medical school (Duke-NUS) to produce the highly trained physician-scientists needed to support the Biomedical Sciences Initiative.
R. Sanders Williams, MD, the senior vice chancellor of academic affairs at Duke University who is on the Duke-NUS Governing Board, is also serving as founding dean of the Duke-NUS. The first Duke-NUS staff were recruited in summer 2005, and the Duke-NUS Interim Campus opened in August 2005. Recruitment of the Duke-NUS entering class of 2007 began in early 2006, and construction of the Duke-NUS permanent facilities is scheduled to begin in winter 2006.
In June of 2003, Ralph Snyderman, MD, then chancellor for health affairs at Duke, and R. Sanders Williams, MD, dean of the Duke University School of Medicine, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore's Minister of State for Education indicating Duke's willingness, in principle, to assist that nation in establishing a new medical school modeled on the Duke University School of Medicine.
Discussions began in earnest with a 2002 visit to Duke by Tony Tan, PhD, who was then Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Minister for Manpower Ng Eng Hen, MBBS, and National University of Singapore President Prof. Shih Choon Fong, PhD.
After months of discussion with faculty and leadership, Duke and the National University of Singapore signed a formal agreement in April 2005 under which the two institutions would partner to establish a new medical school in Singapore.
The Duke-NUS is intended to complement the National University of Singapore's existing undergraduate medical school, based on the British model of medical education, in which students enter medical school after completing their Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level examinations (or equivalent) and then pursue a five-year curriculum towards a medical degree. According to the Ministry of Education, the establishment of a graduate medical school will increase the supply of doctors practicing in Singapore, give the country the flexibility to produce more physicians to meet future needs, and train doctors who are exposed to clinically-related research, thus increasing the nation's capacity to develop a vibrant biomedical hub.
Partnering with Duke The government of Singapore solicited Duke's interest in helping it create a new graduate medical school because of the Medical Center's renowned reputation and its School of Medicine's distinctive educational program, its research activity, and its faculty resources, according to the Ministry of Education.
"Singapore has made a vast commitment to becoming a leader in biomedical research, and they also fund an enviable level of social support and health services for their population," Williams said when the partnership agreement was signed. "The leadership of Duke and the Singapore government share many values, and we believe our partnership will lay the foundation for health advances that will have global impact."
Duke was likewise interested in the partnership, with its leaders citing opportunities to advance global health; form collaborations with NUS faculty and with academic and private research groups at Biopolis and elsewhere in Singapore to accelerate translational research and other research endeavors at Duke; and aid recruitment and retention of excellent faculty at both locations.
Creating the Duke-NUS Under the agreement, the Singapore government is making a significant investment over seven years to establish the new school as part of its national strategy to become a leading center for medical research and education. The school's curriculum is patterned after that of the Duke University School of Medicine. The school is part of the National University of Singapore system, but unique in that it is overseen by a Governing Board including a Duke representative who has veto power over any academic decision made by the Board. Victor J. Dzau, MD, chancellor for health affairs at Duke University, serves as Duke's representative on the Board.
The History and Progress of the Duke-NUS
The need for a graduate medical school The beginnings of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore can be traced to 2000, when Singapore launched an ambitious Biomedical Sciences Initiative designed to make the country the biomedical hub of Asia and to attract both research and health sector manufacturing capabilities to Singapore.
In the Initiative, the government plans to spend more than $3 billion over five years to accelerate development in the biomedical sciences. It has offered incentives to attract companies to Singapore, and is funding research institutes devoted to genomics, bioinformatics, bioengineering, nanotechnology, molecular and cell biology, and cancer therapies.