S'pore, Australia team up to combat emerging infectious diseases

S'pore, Australia team up to combat emerging infectious diseases

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Australia will be holding a joint symposium over the next two days - February 27 to 28 - where scientist from both countries will present their latest findings on infectious diseases and the use of new technology approaches to combat them.

Organised by A*STAR and Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the inaugural A*STAR-NHMRC joint symposium will provide a platform for the exploration of research collaborations and use of integrative technology approaches across the two countries.

This is a step towards further developing and strengthening regional systems and their capacity to detect, respond to and prepare for disease outbreaks and public health events, the organisers said.

Asia has historically been the epicenter for the emergence of new influenza viruses, and experts believe that the next pandemic will begin there.

The symposium will focus on influenza and tuberculosis, two major infectious diseases that affect the Asia-Pacific region with great societal impact.

As for technological approaches, the priority areas of the symposium will be genomics, the sequencing and analysis of DNA and bioinformatics, and the application of computing power to medical research, said CEO of NHMRC Prof Warwick Anderson.

The symposium will be hosted by A*STAR, and will be followed by NHMRC and A*STAR developing a $3.5 million (AUD) joint grant call for research.

A*STAR Chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh said: "Global pandemic is a serious security threat that transcends borders and we need to adopt a transnational outlook and approach to be best prepared."