Singapore Researchers, Neurosurgeons to Jointly Develop New Ways to Diagnose and Treat Parkinson’s

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by Charles Moore |

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Singapore’s National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) are teaming up to develop new technologies to better diagnose and treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, brain injuries and other neurological conditions.

The collaboration aims to develop an artificial intelligence system capable of using computed tomography (CT) scans to accurately identify various categories of traumatic brain injuries. It also hopes to develop a computer algorithm to identify tissues during brain surgeries, with the objective of restoring disrupted neurological function in patients suffering from various neurological conditions.

The three-year joint effort will also promote closer working relationships between neurosurgeons and medical software engineers by means of student attachment programs and annual fellowships.

A one-year fellowship program managed by NTU’s Institute for Health Technologies (HealthTech NTU) will support up to two neurosurgical residents to work full-time with NTU professors at NNI, with residents receiving the equivalent of about $73,800 each to develop and commercialize their respective projects.

The weeks-long student attachment program will give NTU engineering students the chance to work alongside NNI’s neurosurgeons. Multidisciplinary scientists will also get the opportunity to incorporate engineering knowledge into medical practice, gaining first-hand exposure and experience in certain aspects of clinical practice through interaction with neurosurgeons as they work.

“Innovation occurs at intersections of disciplines, knowledge and expertise,” associate professor Ng Wai Hoe, NNI’s medical director, said in a press release. “Doctors have a deep understanding of clinical needs from their everyday interactions with patients. Our unique collaboration brings these medical needs to engineering laboratories an environment where imagination is encouraged in the form of technological advances and capabilities.”

The NNI/NTU partners note that rapidly aging populations will trigger a global jump in the prevalence of neurological diseases. However, they say, the use of neurotechnology can help scientists engineer solutions that will revolutionize brain disorder treatment.

“This collaboration creates a unique multidisciplinary research environment by integrating healthcare with both medical and engineering expertise,” said Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s chief of staff and vice president of research. “This will not only nurture next-generation doctors armed with a multidisciplinary skill set to meet Singapore’s healthcare needs, but also enhance medical technologies to diagnose and treat neurological conditions more effectively.”