Singapore Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) – January 2012 Update

Update January 2012

The Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) is one arm of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).  The mission of A*STAR is to foster world class scientific research and develop talent for a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. The BMRC oversees the development of core research capabilities within A*STAR research units specialising in bioprocessing; chemical synthesis; genomics and proteomics; molecular and cell biology; bioengineering and nanotechnology and computational biology. Through competitive grants, the Council also supports research in the wider scientific community such as public universities and hospitals. As part of its efforts to advance human healthcare, BMRC actively promotes translational medicine and cross-disciplinary research. The Council also engages in human capital development in the biomedical sciences and promotes societal awareness of biomedical research through outreach programmes. S$110 milion have been set aside for stem cell research until 2011.

Singapore stem cell strategy

The Singapore Stem Cell Consortium is an initiative of the A*STAR BMRC with the aim of establishing a coordinated and focused translational research and development programme in stem cells in Singapore.  The Consortium seeks to catalyze the translation of basic stem cell research into clinically viable stem cell therapies for chronic, debilitating diseases, by building strong linkages between basic science and clinical research groups.   It coordinates the diverse stem cell research activities in Singapore by funding collaborative grant calls and developing key resources needed by the stem cell research community. The Stem Cell Bank has been set up enabling Singapore’s research community access to stem cell lines.  The Consortium also organizes training courses and workshops to increase the pool of local stem cell scientists and stem cell-related conferences to promote regular interactions between scientists and clinicians, and to forge partnerships with the global stem cell research community.

Key investments and achievements

The SSCC has;

  • Banked and hopes to distribute clinical grade hESC lines (see Crook et al (2007) Cell Stem Cell 1 490-94)
  • Organized or co-organised several bilateral international stem cell meetings:- UK(2008), Israel (2008), Germany (2009), Australia (2010)
  • Negotiated preferential terms for A*STAR use of new Lonza Cell Manufacturing Facility in Singapore (October 2011 – )
  • Distributed more than SGD20M in grant funds to non A*STAR, academic investigators in Singapore. Some of this support has been critical to research presented in the citation list below.

1. Sall4 modulates embryonic stem cell pluripotency and early embryonic development by the transcriptional regulation of Pou5f1. Zhang et al (2006) Nat Cell Biol 10 1114-1123 2. Jmjdla and Jmjd2c histone H3 Lys 9 demethylases regulate self-renewal in embryonic stem cells. Loh et al (2007) Genes Dev 20 2545-57. 3. Whole-Genome Mapping of Histone H3Lys4 and 27 Trimethylations Reveals Distinct Genomic Compartments in Human Embryonic Stem Cells. Zhao et al (2007) Cell Stem Cell 1 286-98. 4. Genome-wide mapping of RELA(p65) binding identifies E2F1 as a transcriptional activator recruited by NG-kappaB upon TLR4 activation. Lim et al (2007) Mol Cell 4 622-35. 5. Pluripotent stem cells and disease modeling. Colman et al (2009) Cell Stem Cell 5 3 244-7. 6. Reprogramming of fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells with orphan nuclear receptor Esrrb. Feng et al (2009) Nat Cell Bio 11 2 197-203. 7. Molecules that promote or enhance reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells. Feng et al (2009) Cell Stem Cell 4 4 301-12. 8. Tbx3 improves the germ-line competency of induced pluripotent stem cells. Han et al (2010) Nature 463 7284 1096-100. 9. The nuclear receptor Nr5a2 can replace Oct4 in the reprogramming of murine somatic cells to pluripotent cells. Heng et al (2010) Cell Stem Cell 6 2 167-74. 10. Transposable elements have rewired the core regulatory network of human embryonic stem cells. Kunarso et al (2010) Nat Genet 42 7 631-4.

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