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Few words exist that strike as much fear in our hearts as the word cancer. In Asia, the fight is even harder with the prevalence of cancers specific to the region. Unfortunately, we still lack of information in mainstream medical literature, most of which are still Western-centric. With the help of the Tanoto Foundation, one Singaporean doctor is looking to change all that.
Fighting Cancer through Research
Associate Professor Lim Soon Thye is the latest recipient of a Tanoto Foundation Professorship. The current Senior Consultant and Head of the Division of Medical Oncology at National Cancer Centre Singapore and Assistant Dean at Duke-NUS Medical School was conferred the Tanoto Foundation Professorship for Medical Oncology in 2016. This award will boost Assoc. Prof. Lim’s research in cancer and more specifically, his work on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
With Asians accounting for over half of global cancer patients, it is a disease that Tanoto Foundation has taken an interest in. As Belinda Tanoto, member of Tanoto Foundation’s Board of Trustees said, “Most of us know someone with cancer, or have lost someone to this deadly disease. Through the professorship, we want to do our part to catalyse breakthroughs in cancer research, particularly in cancers that affect Asians.”
Assoc. Prof. Lim’s research is particularly timely in this regard. Existing medical literature on cancers associated with viral infections is thin, and provides a gap that needs to be filled. One specific type of cancer Assoc. Prof. Lim focuses on is NK/T-cell lymphoma, rare in Caucasians but more common in Asians. To that end, he co-founded the Asian Lymphoma Study Group, which involves over 500 patients from China and Singapore. The results unsurprisingly and significantly increase our understanding of an overlooked aspect of cancer literature, and exposes a genetic basis to the NK/T-cell lymphoma.
Knowing Who We Fight For
Ultimately, Assoc. Prof. Lim’s work and Tanoto Foundation’s objectives coalesce around improving the lives of people suffering from cancer.
Belinda Tanoto shares, “Studies suggest that outcomes for cancer patients in developing regions are poorer than those in developed ones. At Tanoto Foundation, we believe that it shouldn’t be so. Cancer patients everywhere should get the same access to the same quality of care.”
Assoc. Prof. Lim offers similar sentiments, “Patients respond to treatments differently, some treatments just don’t work for a local patient. Traditional methods like chemotherapy, act like a bomb – with normal cells getting killed as well. We found that these treatments don’t work, so we bring these unmet needs into our research question.”
Founded by Indonesian entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto, Tanoto Foundation’s financial support provides scientists and clinicians with the flexibility to find new ways to create greater impact.
As Assoc. Prof. Lim says, “Tanoto Foundation allows you more discretion to be innovative, to do more experimental things – there is continuity. But at the same time, because the money comes from Tanoto Foundation, we are kept accountable. Mr. Tanoto is always looking for impact, how we can impact society and the world.”