A*Star gears up on medical diagnostics

Associate Professor Tan Sze Wee, deputy executive director of the Biomedical Research Council, sitting next to a brain computer interface developed by Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star).
PHOTO: A*Star gears up on medical diagnostics

Mobile devices to monitor patients' vital data and more precise imaging tools are among the healthcare technologies that will be explored and developed here.

The innovations will make it faster and easier for clinicians to make a better diagnosis.

As Singapore ages rapidly, there is a pressing demand for accessible and high-quality medical diagnostics, said Associate Professor Tan Sze Wee, deputy executive director of the Biomedical Research Council at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

Yesterday, A*Star signed a US$20 million (S$26 million) agreement with medical technology firm GE Healthcare, which will see initial research and development efforts in three areas - patient monitoring, Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

For instance, researchers from the two organisations will work on innovations that enable the monitoring of vital health information such as blood pressure, and the retrieval of a patient's medical history through mobile devices.

They will also develop better-quality CT and MRI scanners that will enhance accuracy in the diagnosis of illnesses such as neurological disorders and cancers.

"These opportunities will help to improve treatment outcomes for patients and reduce complications," said Prof Tan.

Singapore's medical technologies sector is growing fast. Between 2009 and last year, manufacturing output for the sector grew 54 per cent to $5.1 billion. The number of jobs also grew to 10,400, from 8,400 five years ago.

Singapore is seeing a growing proportion of the elderly. By 2030, one in five Singaporeans will be aged above 65.


This article was first published on Dec 9, 2014.
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