Under one roof: clinics, education and research

08 July 2019 | Education
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Students learning how to administer local anaesthesia using Augmented Reality

NUS Dentistry students no longer have to shuttle between lecture theatres at their faculty for lessons and the dental clinic at the National University Hospital for their clinical training. With the newly opened National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore (NUCOHS), they will simply need to take an elevator. NUCOHS consolidates the NUH University Dental Cluster, NUS Dentistry and research facilities in a single location, allowing dental specialists, professionals, students, faculty and researchers to draw on each other’s strengths to bring about better clinical care, high impact research and education.

At the official opening ceremony of NUCOHS on 5 July, Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong said, “The new Centre will be a place for the meeting of minds for academics, research scientists and clinicians from dentistry, medicine, allied health and the behavioural sciences. I believe NUCOHS will catalyse the growth of a broad range of collaborative research that can be translated into real-life practice, making a tangible difference to Singapore’s population health and wellbeing.”

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From left: Prof Finbarr Allen; NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye; Mr Gan; National University Health System (NUHS) Chief Executive Professor John Eu-Li Wong; and NUHS Board Member Mr Richard Lim officially opening NUCOHS

With the integrated facilities, NUS Dentistry undergraduates can look forward to more personalised learning through the innovative use of educational technology to complement conventional methods of training and education. Some examples of these include the use of eye tracker devices to understand the way students review and assess radiographs, as well as virtual learning and haptic technology to train them in the delivery of local anaesthesia and in carrying out dental extractions and operative dental procedures.

The new facilities will allow the Faculty to raise its annual undergraduate intake from 60 to 80 by 2021 to meet the growing demand for dentists. Additionally, the Faculty will be increasing opportunities for further training through the development of continuing education and advanced graduate diplomas to train the future specialist workforce.

The new Centre will be a place for the meeting of minds for academics, research scientists and clinicians from dentistry, medicine, allied health and the behavioural sciences. I believe NUCOHS will catalyse the growth of a broad range of collaborative research that can be translated into real-life practice, making a tangible difference to Singapore’s population health and wellbeing.

The laboratories located in the 11-storey building are undertaking cutting-edge research into the use of biomaterials like graphene to inhibit biofilms, and the regeneration of tissues using stem cells.

The Centre’s location also facilitates multi-disciplinary research, explained NUS Dentistry Dean and NUCOHS Director Professor Patrick Finbarr Allen. “Our research teams will work closely with clinicians in this new centre to translate basic research into clinical trials in our newly established clinical trials unit. We will also take advantage of the synergies made possible by our location in the heart of the Kent Ridge campus with its world class academic and healthcare environment,” he said.

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Associate Professor Kelvin Foong reviewing the results of an eye-tracking assessment that illustrates how a student reads radiographs

The Centre will house training facilities for Nanyang Polytechnic students pursuing the Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Therapy for careers as Oral Health Therapists (OHTs), allowing for opportunities of collaborative training between future dentists and OHTs.

The treatment rooms in the Centre are equipped with facilities and equipment — such as hoisting aids and a wheelchair tilter — to serve a wide range of patients, such as the elderly, mobility-challenged, and those with special needs. With the improved facilities, NUCOHS will be able to treat up to 500 patients a day — a 40 per cent increase from NUH’s current load.