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SMART Collaborative Research Stories: Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore)

As antimicrobial resistance (AMR) continues to pose a global threat to public health, strong scientific and clinical collaborations are required to develop innovative approaches to combat this problem. AMR is projected to cost the Western Pacific Region approximately $148 billion between 2020 and 2030, while an estimated 5.2 million deaths are expected to result from drug-resistant bacterial infections between 2023 and the end of 2030.

In this series, we delve into SMART’s collaborations with other research and academic institutions in Singapore, shedding light on their experiences and learnings and the importance of collaboration in research. This feature showcases the collaboration between SMART’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) interdisciplinary research group (IRG) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

In the fight against the rapidly evolving threat of antimicrobial resistance, AMR aims to address this problem by developing multiple innovative and disruptive approaches to identify, respond to, and treat drug-resistant microbial infections. A key collaborator in this endeavor is NTU Singapore, with their deep expertise in bacterial infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and non-tuberculous mycobacteria pulmonary diseases. Additionally, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at NTU Singapore provides crucial expertise in animal and clinical studies, both critical components of AMR’s research projects.

Dr Kaixi Zhang, Senior Postdoctoral Associate at AMR

“At the AMR IRG, we work with collaborators who have a shared interest in discovering novel antimicrobials. NTU Singapore's expertise in antimicrobial drug development, particularly for mycobacteria, is crucial for our research. Their advanced facilities and extensive experience with bacterial animal models perfectly complement our research goals, making collaboration a natural fit,” said Dr Kaixi Zhang, Senior Postdoctoral Associate at AMR.

“For the past two decades, my research has been focused on combating the antimicrobial resistance crisis, particularly through novel therapeutics. When I encountered SMART AMR, their dedication to developing innovative solutions resonated deeply. SMART excels at assembling teams with interdisciplinary expertise, a crucial strength for tackling a challenge as immense as antimicrobial resistance. The IRG is committed to translation - projects are managed with a clear focus on achieving tangible clinical outcomes. A pragmatic approach is essential for the success of any translational research programme, and it's what solidified my decision to collaborate with them,” said Dr Kevin Pethe, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, NTU Singapore.

SMART AMR and NTU researchers collaborating in a laboratory

To foster effective collaboration, the AMR and NTU researchers hold regular project meetings to discuss progress and jointly conduct lab work across both facilities. This close partnership extends to brainstorming ideas for new projects and securing funding. Additionally, the researchers benefit from shared access to core facilities at NTU and their network of collaborators, allowing them to tap into diverse expertise when needed.

Emphasising the importance of inter-organisational and interdisciplinary collaboration to research and scientific advancement, Dr Kevin Pethe said, “No single institution or laboratory has the capacity to develop novel therapeutics on their own; success relies on interdisciplinary collaborations. SMART AMR is an important institution in Singapore that acts as a catalyst that allows scientists, clinicians, and drug developers, supported by experienced project managers, to develop innovative solutions to tackle AMR and other infectious diseases.”


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