Division of Paediatric
Khoo Teck Puat - National University
Children's Medical Institute
National University Hospital
Department of Paediatrics
NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
Associate Professor Allen Yeoh Eng Juh is the quintessential translational research innovator. He is internationally recognised for his work in childhood acute leukaemias, the most common type of childhood cancer. A/Prof Yeoh’s long-term research in minimal residual disease in childhood leukaemia has changed the way childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is treated in Singapore and Malaysia. This new and gentler approach departs from the wholesale adoption of Western protocols and personalises the intensity of chemotherapy to enable high cure rates of 80.6 per cent, as well as cost savings for the patient. Treatment costs have been lowered from $15,000 after subsidy, to $7,000 for a 4-drug induction. The hospital stay has also been reduced from one month to one week during the induction phase of therapy. Patients also have fewer side effects (treatment related toxicities) and better quality of life when they enter adulthood.
A/Prof Yeoh’s achievements as a clinician scientist have been widely recognised via the NMRC Clinician Scientist Talent Award continuously from 2004 to date. His paper on Gene Expression Profiling in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia published in the cover of Cancer Cell in 2002; was one of the highest cited articles in that field in 2003; it has been cited 927 times by 2012. The genetic classifier mentioned in the paper has been patented by St Jude Children’s Research Hospital with A/Prof Yeoh as a co-discoverer. His recent discovery of Effective Disease Response Matrix Algorithm to predict treatment outcome in childhood lymhoblastic leukaemia was awarded a million-dollar competitive grant funding by the NMRC.
Abroad, A/Prof Yeoh’s reputation is just as remarkable. He is involved as Principal Investigator in multi-centre collaborative studies in Singapore and Malaysia. He also chairs the Viva-Asia working group which has members from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, United States working together to formulate treatment protocols for rare haematologic malignancies in children.
A/Prof Yeoh leads Singapore’s clinician scientist training efforts through his chairmanships of the NUHS Clinician Scientist Unit, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Master of Clinical Investigation training programme, NMRC New Investigator Grant and Transitional Awards. His interest in charity efforts in paediatric oncology is embodied in his roles as Director of the St Jude-Viva Children’s Cancer Programme and member of the Medical Advisory Board, Children’s Cancer Foundation. He is the Viva-Goh Foundation Associate Professor in Paediatric Oncology and the Scientific Chairman of the Annual St Jude-Viva Forum, furthering NUHS’s outreach efforts in paediatric oncology in Asia. The NUHS Translational Research Innovator Award is a wonderful way to acknowledge his hard work and support his continued leadership in the field of paediatric oncology to further strengthen the NUHS’ position in this field.