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GVN Center and Member Spotlight

Linfa Wang

Director of the Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases
Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore

Comparing with other countries, Singapore has a relatively low infection rate of COVID-19. What can Singapore teach the U.S. and the rest of the world about responding to COVID-19?  

The key success of the Singapore experience, especially at the early stage of the outbreak, is a combination of the following: (1) lessons and experiences from the SARS outbreak 17 years ago, which made the government and society in general much more astute in dealing with large infectious disease outbreaks, (2) the early government action on the formation of inter-ministry taskforce for seamless response from top to bottom, (3) formation of a national response research committee before we had the first imported case, and (4) very effective testing and contact tracing followed by isolation and the best medical care.

What are you and your institution currently working on regarding SARS-CoV-2?

Our institute is involved in all major aspects of research in response to COVID-19 responses.  We are the first in the world to successfully apply serology in contact tracing and have recently developed a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT) which can measure neutralizing antibodies with high specificity and sensitivity without the use of live virus or BSL3 containment.  We are also working on animal models, B-cell and T-cell mediated immune responses, structural biology, therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and a vaccine based on replicating mRNA.

Bio sketch

Professor Linfa Wang, PhD is the Director of the Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School. His research group studies the bat’s innate defense mechanisms to understand their ability to live long and co-exist with viruses largely free of clinical diseases.  His other major research focus is to develop novel molecular and serological platforms for discovery-driven diagnosis of infections with unknown etiology. Professor Wang's work has been recognized internationally through various international awards, numerous invited speeches at major international conferences and many top scientific publications, along with five patents and many invited book chapters. He holds a number of honorary positions and memberships and has received numerous awards. He is also active internationally by serving on various editorial boards for publication in the areas of virology, microbiology and infectious diseases. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Virology Journal.


Overview of Duke-NUS Medical School and GVN

The Duke-NUS Medical School is a collaboration between Duke University and the National University of Singapore. The program in Emerging Infectious Diseases is one of the Signature Research Programs in the school with a mission to conduct cutting-edge infectious diseases research that will enhance healthcare in Singapore and the region. The GVN-Singapore Center of Excellence is led by Duke-NUS Medical School, comprising 7 virology research intuitions. It was started in 2018 to make significant contributions in many areas, especially in rapid response to outbreaks of viruses causing disease in humans. For more information please visit here.