He fights for cancer patients

(From left) Doctor and clinician-scientist Iain Tan, paralympian Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha and orthopaedic surgical resident Kumaran Rasappan at the Istana. Clinician-scientist Iain Tan was one of the winners of the Singapore Youth Award (SYA)
PHOTO: He fights for cancer patients

SINGAPORE - Dr Iain Tan wears two rather big hats: He is both a research scientist and a medical doctor. But he sees his work as a perfect marriage between technology and medicine, and as being highly complementary.

"There is so much progress in science and technology that we can use in medicine to help patients," said the 35-year-old about his motivation.

Based at the National Cancer Centre Singapore as a specialist, he is also a clinician scientist at the Genome Institute of Singapore.

The father of three children said that while his patients may not immediately benefit from his research, he hopes that in a decade, his work will bear fruit.

In 2010, he won the Young Investigator award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology for his research in personalised medicine for the treatment of stomach cancer. Last year, he was awarded the Terry Fox Foundation Research Grant. He was also given $1.2 million by the National Medical Research Council in January this year.

He is working on finding new diagnostic methods for early detection of cancer recurrence.

Cancer patients always face the risk of their cancer returning even though it has been removed, he said. "With colorectal cancer, if we can pick it up early, there is a chance that we can still cure them even if the cancer comes back," he said.

With his research, he hopes to devise new ways of testing that eliminates the possibility of false negatives. He said: "We want to find the most accurate test possible. It is a work in progress."

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