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University of Warwick, NTU to launch joint global programme for neuroscience research

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has linked up with the University of Warwick, UK, to launch a joint global programme for neuroscience research.

The universities- both ranked among the top four in the world in 2012 QS Top 50 ranking of young universities under 50 years old – have jointly funded two appointments to the new Warwick-NTU Neuroscience Research@Singapore programme and will hold their first annual symposium at Warwick today (September 13 -15).

The collaboration will allow Warwick to tap into the research powerhouse of Singapore’s world-renowned Biopolis biomedicine hub and the critical mass forming in neuroscience research in the country.

Dr Ayumu Tashiro and Dr Albert Chen have been taken on as the first professors to the Warwick-NTU joint programme based at Biopolis. A joint PhD in neuroscience is also currently being developed by the two institutions.

In addition a small research team will be formed with a post-doctoral research fellow being assigned to each of the two new academics, and graduate studentships will be made available.

The two professors, who hold a joint-appointment with the two universities, will be teaching undergraduate and post graduate students at NTU. Students from Warwick are set to benefit from the programme through two-way visits and exchanges of materials.

Professor Tim Jones, University of Warwick Pro Vice-Chancellor: Research (Science and Medicine), Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement, said: “Both the University of Warwick and NTU are ambitious, globally-connected universities with a strong track record in neuroscience research.

“Neuroscience at Warwick is one of our strategic priorities and has undergone significant investment and expansion in recent years. This link up with NTU offers significant opportunities to accelerate our activities in this area.”

Professor Stephen Smith, NTU’s Vice President (Research) said: “It is an opportune time for NTU to tie up with Warwick for neuroscience research as Singapore pushes towards research in the biomedical science industry.

“With NTU’s focus on interdisciplinary research and with our new medical school starting next year, I believe the joint-research effort will see synergistic collaborations between our institutions, yielding important research insights into the workings of the brain and eventually, enabling scientists and doctors to develop new treatment and biomedical tools.”

Scientists at Biopolis are working on optogenetic tools – genetically-encoded light-activated ion channels and pumps used to map neural circuitry.

The new Warwick-NTU partnership aims to build a complementary strand of research in this area for use in investigating how the brain develops specific synaptic connections between neurons, how neural stem cells in the adult brain contribute to plasticity of neural circuitry; and how the brain creates spatial maps to memorise locations.

The programme will take place in laboratories provided to it by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore’s government agency dedicated to supporting science, technology and research. The partnership will also enable both partners to participate in the expanding Neuroscience Research Partnership in Singapore, a collaboration between A*STAR and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.

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