I don’t understand the first thing about genetics. I didn’t follow the story of the disgraced South Korean stem cell researcher because it bored me stiff. But I do think by neglecting genetic research, America is making a big mistake. This is bound to be the next big thing. After all, who doesn’t want to live healthy longer? How nice it would be if we didn’t have to fear cancer, Alzheimer’s and a host of other diseases. It may seem utopian, but what is science if not making the impossible possible?
Singapore certainly seems to think so. For a tiny city-state with just 4.4 million people, it has huge ambitions. And deep pockets. Which it is turning out to lure some of the hottest genetic researchers from the West. Singapore has already bagged British biologist Sydney Brenner, the 2002 Nobel Prize winner for medicine, and fellow Briton Alan Colman, whose team cloned Dolly, the world’s most famous sheep.
And now an American couple, Neal Copeland and Nancy Jenkins, will be joining them, bringing — of all things — mice. Thousands and thousands of mice of 50 to 100 different strains for cancer research. The couple, who worked in the US government’s National Cancer Instititute in Maryland, chose Singapore over leading US cancer research centres at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering and California’s Stanford University because research funding is tapering off in the US and growing in Singapore, they told Reuters.
Reuters says Singapore is spending billions to develop its biomedical industry and so many scientists are eager to join the action that it can pick and choose the very best. The Reuters story deserves to be read in full to get an idea of what Singapore is doing, which has been missed by most of the media.