Prominent cancer researcher Ashok Venkitaraman to head Cancer Science Institute of Singapore at NUS

The National University of Singapore (NUS) today announced that renowned cancer researcher Professor Ashok Venkitaraman from the University of Cambridge will lead one of its premier Research Centres of Excellence, the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore).

Prof Venkitaraman will become a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, a member of the National University Health System (NUHS). He will also take up appointments as Senior Principal Investigator and Senior Adviser at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Prof Venkitaraman will begin his appointments after a period of transition from his current responsibilities as the Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer Research and Director of the Medical Research Council Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge.

Prof Venkitaraman said, “I look forward with great enthusiasm to leading the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore at NUS, and to working with colleagues at NUS, NUHS, A*STAR and across Singapore. Cancer remains a major cause of illness and death across Asia and worldwide. But the tide is turning, and rapid advances in scientific understanding driven by fundamental research promise to fuel the innovation that will reduce the burden of illness and death from this dreaded disease. CSI Singapore aspires to remain at the forefront of this vital research.”

“Long-term and strategic investment in biomedical research has positioned Singapore superbly to drive pioneering science with real-life impact. The research capabilities and environment that have been created here offer terrific opportunities for cutting-edge work that brings together expertise across disciplines and institutions, and which bridges between fundamental science and applications in clinical medicine as well as population health.

NUS has become an important hub for academic and industrial collaborations that already span the globe. There is great potential to forge new links that build upon my deep-rooted connections with colleagues in the University of Cambridge and elsewhere,” Prof Venkitaraman added.

Prof Venkitaraman’s research has contributed fundamentally to our understanding of how cancer is suppressed by genes that maintain the integrity of DNA in the human genome. His laboratory first discovered that faults (‘mutations’) in the breast and ovarian cancer gene, BRCA2, provoke genome instability leading to carcinogenesis. He is widely recognised for his contributions to cancer genetics and biology, particularly in elucidating the impact of genome instability on carcinogenesis and cancer therapy. Prof Venkitaraman now seeks to achieve a deeper understanding of the steps that underlie carcinogenesis, in order to find new strategies to intercept cancer development well before the disease reaches an advanced and hard-to-treat stage. Please refer to the Annex for a brief biography of Prof Venkitaraman.

Prof Venkitaraman will succeed Professor Daniel G Tenen, who is the Founding Director of CSI Singapore. Under his leadership over the last decade, CSI Singapore has achieved recognition through numerous awards and honours conferred on its outstanding scientists and students. The impact, breadth and quality of the Institute’s research is also evident in its publications in high impact scientific journals.

Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost, said, “We are pleased to welcome Prof Venkitaraman to NUS. We are confident his skills and experience will push boundaries in research and entrepreneurship in biomedical sciences and take CSI Singapore to new heights. I would also like to express our appreciation to Prof Tenen for his strong leadership in developing the CSI Singapore into a world-class cancer research institution.”

“NUHS is very grateful to Prof Tenen for building CSI Singapore to what it is today, and the strong links that it has with the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore and the rest of the cancer research community in Singapore. We know Prof Venkitaraman well and look forward to his building on the great foundation created by Prof Tenen as we work on developing better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer to benefit Singapore and the world,” said Professor John Eu-Li Wong, NUHS Chief Executive and NUS Senior Vice President (Health Affairs).