Focus & Mission

Key Research Areas

Included under the umbrella of University Surgical Cluster, some key research areas and strengths are the generation of minimal invasive endoscopic tools and related intellectual properties. We manufacture biosensors, flow sensors, less invasive surgical retractors and scopes. We also develop methodology to make heart and vascular surgery, more efficient and safer. In the colorectal field, we strive to improve the outcome in colorectal diseases by promoting minimal invasive surgical routes, targeting benign, anorectal disease as well as colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer, pelvic floor disorders are further priorities, moreover, we use stem cells to address gastric cancer and discover biomarkers for locally advanced gastric cancer. We use Genomic- guided chemotherapy for gastric cancer patients who are at good risks and to address diabetes mellitus and obesity, we explore new Endoluminal Device for Duodenal exclusion for better control in the treatment of Type II diabetes and obesity In Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, we pursue scaffold technologies, adult stem cells for tissue regeneration as well as the usage of bio-imaging to better understand pathology & patho-physiology e.g. in facial trauma.


All surgical developments have to aim at reducing patient burden, pain and surgical trauma, to distribute high standards of care to wide masses of the population in the region and the world. Without research and investment in research projects, without research infrastructure and academic commitment, medicine and surgery stagnate. Progress is eliminated. However, diseases spread and change within evolving megatrends, as countries become more industrialized, lifestyle changes and people become older. New pandemics emerge. Without research and innovative surgical therapies many organs, organ systems, human lives cannot be salvaged. It is our vocation, in alignment with the most primary principles of health care, to lead the way to the future with research, teaching and innovation, and hopefully turn scientific concepts of today to useful therapies tomorrow. In the period under review, the University Surgical Cluster won a total of $16.85 million in competitive grant funding. The following are the most significant:

1. Restorative Surgery

a. Myocardial restoration, open and endoscopic, via stem cells and tissue engineering technologies (Theodoros Kofidis)

b. Breast restoration following partial resection (Chan Ching Wan)

c. Hepatobiliary regeneration via liver tissue engineering


2. Epidemiology, molecular biology, diagnosis, and treatment of: a. Hepatocellular Carcinoma (KK Madhavan, Stephen Chang, Victor Lee) b. Breast Cancer (Philip Iau, Mikael Hartmann, Chan Ching Wan) c. Metobonomic profiling for bladder cancer diagnosis and surveillance; intravesicle cytokine gene therapy(Kesavan Nathan) d. Abdominal cancers


3. Medical Device Development

a. Gastro-duodenal endoluminal barriers for the treatment of obesity and diabetes (Jimmy So)

b. Wireless vascular (extra- and intra-) flow sensors (Benjamin Chua)

c. Pressure-steerable endovascular catheters (Benjamin Chua)

d. Training simulators and robots (Charles Tsang, Stephen Chang)

e. Laparoscopic implements (Charles Tsang, Stephen Chang)

f. New, less invasvie mitral valve implantation using bayonet mechanism (Theodoros Kofidis)


4. Transplant and Immunology

a. Pancreatic islet transplantation

b.Split liver transplantation

c. Organ procurement and perfusion


Message on Research Mission from Head of Department Professor KK

The practice of surgery has changed dramatically in recent history and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The Department of Surgery, as the principal academic surgical centre in Singapore, aspires to be at the forefront of such change, not for its own sake, but, ultimately, for the sake of our patients. The primacy of our patients’ interests is easily forgotten, cannot be overemphasized, and must guide all action. Our research mission flows from this guidance. On the one hand, we will explore avenues of inquiry that deepen our understanding of disease processes that have an impact on, or are impacted by, the practice of surgery. On the other, we seek ways to extend our reach, to benefit more patients than we can possibly operate on. The latter can only happen through innovation, and then by bringing innovation to the patient. To this end, we intend to devote significant resources to the development of innovative medical devices, an endeavour which I believe will draw upon, focus, and crystallize our competitive advantage as surgeons. As we move forward, we look forward to collaborating with our colleagues in the other medical specialties, the other faculties in the larger University community, as well as researchers in other institutions of higher learning and research institutes. We firmly believe that free and frequent exchange of ideas across disciplines will bring the academic community together, foster innovation, and make us all better at what we do.


Prominent Field of Activity

  • Minimal invasive surgery
  • Organ restoration using stem cells
  • Epidemiology
  • Development of new surgical techniques
  • Foundation of infrastructure for research and academic enterprise
  • Focus & Mission