Research Centres of Excellence

The National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) established the Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) in 2007 to spur research excellence in the local universities. This programme saw the set-up of five research centres within the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). RCEs carry out world-class investigator-led research aligned with the long-term strategic interests of Singapore. The RCE programme aims to:

  • Attract, retain and support world-class academic investigators;
  • Enhance graduate education in the universities and train quality research manpower;
  • Create new knowledge in the specific areas of focus of each centre.

Organisation

Each RCE is hosted by a local university. It has significant autonomy in pursuing its own research mission and objectives, guided by a Governing Board (GB) which provides strategic direction and stewardship. An RCE is headed by a distinguished scientist as Director, who is advised by a Scientific Advisory Board.

Each RCE has 15 to 25 principal investigators (PIs), each of whom leads a research team of post-doctoral fellows, research students and supporting staff.

All RCE PIs hold joint-faculty appointments at the host university or one of the other local universities.

Selection and Review

The five RCEs were selected through a competitive process between 2007 and 2010. White papers and subsequently full proposals were submitted for peer reviews and evaluated by the MOE's Academic Research Council (ARC), a committee of distinguished international scientists and academics. The RCE's progress is reviewed by an International Review Panel every three years.

Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS)

The EOS commenced operations in December 2008 and is based at NTU. Through fundamental research on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, changing sea levels, and climate change in Southeast Asia, the EOS seeks to inspire and enable safer and more sustainable societies in the region. Professor Kerry Sieh, who was previously the Robert P. Sharp Professor of Geology at the Tectonic Observatory, California Institute of Technology, leads the EOS team of earth scientists, including renowned neotectonicist Paul Tapponnier and volcanologist expert Chris Newhall.

Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT Singapore)

CQT's experimental labs use lasers to manipulate, measure and contain quantum systems containing atoms, as well as conduct experiments exploring the quantum behaviour of light.

Established as the first of Singapore's RCEs in December 2007, the Centre for Quantum Technologies brings together quantum physicists and computer scientists to explore the quantum nature of reality and new possibilities in information processing. Research at the CQT is focused on understanding and controlling the interactions of atoms and photons. These interactions can potentially be exploited to access new modes of computation and communication. The Centre is hosted by NUS, with staff and students of over 200 coming from more than 35 countries. The Centre is headed by Professor Artur Ekert, also Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford.

Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI)

Launched in October 2008, CSI at the National University of Singapore (NUS) aims to catalyse world-class research in cancer sciences by building on prevailing academic strengths and research competencies, attracting top global academic cancer research talent, fostering outstanding international scientific collaborations, and offering quality training to nurture innovative cancer researchers. The Institute takes a multi-faceted and coordinated approach to cancer research extending from basic mechanistic studies all the way to experimental therapeutics. It links unique resources in Singapore to develop new approaches to understand and treat this complex disease. CSI is led by Professor Daniel Tenen from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Harvard Medical School.

Mechanobiology Institute (MBI Singapore)

MBI Singapore, which commenced operations on 1 April 2009, is hosted by NUS. It aims to develop a new paradigm for studying living systems and diseases by focusing on cell and tissue mechanics. One of its aims is to create a common international standard for defining new computational models, experimental reagents and tools for studying diseases of cells and tissues. MBI, Singapore, is led by Professor Michael Sheetz, and William R Kenan Jr. Professor from Columbia University.

The Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE)

SCELSE, launched in April 2011, is a joint venture between NTU and NUS, and is hosted in NTU. It aims to take a multidisciplinary approach to discover, control and direct the behavior of biofilm communities for sustainable environmental, engineering, public health and medical applications. This is enabled through its strengths in analysis of complex microbiomes, using advanced computational biology and cutting edge facilities in genome sequencing, bio-imaging and bioreactor processes. SCELSE is helmed by internationally renowned scientific leader, Professor Staffan Kjelleberg from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), who is the Centre Director. 

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