A recent symposium sought to foster closer professional connections between infectious disease researchers at Duke Medicine and its Singapore campus.

Insights and Solutions for Emerging Infectious Diseases, a two-day symposium, was held Apr. 22 and 23 to bring infectious disease researchers at Duke together with their colleagues at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore. Twenty researchers from the Singapore campus traveled to Durham for the event, where faculty from both campuses presented their research.

“Research is always successful when you collaborate with people who have different expertise,” said Soman Abraham, professor of pathology and co-organizer of the symposium. “We want to show people what each of us are doing, and hopefully build sustainable bridges over time.”

Although the individual presentations focused heavily on academia, LinFa Wang, director of the Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS, said the event would ideally help foster relationships by helping to put faces to publications.

“Nowadays, the publication industry is all online, so learning at these conferences is not as big of a deal,” Wang said. “The most important thing now is having personal contact, and that’s exactly what we want to do.”

The symposium is intended to be the first in a series of similar events dedicated to building transnational connections, Wang noted. If this event is well received, the other four signature research programs offered at the Singapore campus will likely hold symposiums of their own—potentially in Durham or in Singapore.

The collaboration would be mutually beneficial, Wang said.

“The uniqueness of Duke-NUS in Singapore is that it’s not just another local institute,” said Eng Eong Ooi, associate professor of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Duke-NUS.

The Singapore campus would especially benefit by having greater collaboration between the two campuses and having senior faculty from Durham join the institute in Asia, Ooi added.

Organizers hope that the series of symposiums to come will garner student interest and encourage them to become more involved in the Duke-NUS research programs, Abraham said. More opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to study and conduct research at the Singapore campus are likely to be developed in the future.

A number of current immunology and pathology students also attended the presentations.

“It’s just really cool to see the research that’s going on here and go to the presentations in this small personalized setting,” said junior Becky Leylek, a biology major who has taken graduate courses in immunology. “Everyone gets to know each other pretty well.”