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Emerging Infections (EI)

About EI

Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) are infections that have recently appeared within a population or those whose incidence or topographical range is rapidly increasing or threatens to increase in the near future. These diseases poses a serious public health threat globally.

There are various causes of EID:

• Previously undetected or unknown infectious agents

• Known agents that have spread to new locations or new populations

• Previously known agents whose role in specific diseases has previously not been clearly understood.

• Re-emergence of agents whose incidence of disease had significantly declined in the past, but whose incidence of disease has reappeared. These are known as re-emerging infectious diseases


Since the 1970s, many infectious diseases have been discovered, including SARS, MERS, Ebola, chikungunya, avian flu, swine flu and, most recently, Zika. The fear that emerging infectious diseases can cause a global epidemic is a serious concern as people travel much more frequently and widely than in the past, live in more thickly populated areas, and be quite proximal to wild animals.

The development of newer vaccines and antimicrobial drugs in quick response to emergence and spread of a given infectious disease in the past had created hope that infectious diseases could be controlled or even eliminated. However, the current realisation that infectious diseases continue to emerge and re-emerge put stress on and creates bigger challenges ahead in infectious disease research.

The EID programme is one of the five Signature Research Programmes of the Duke-NUS Medical School. The listed researchers of the EID programme conduct outstanding research in many areas of emerging infectious diseases namely, pathogen discovery, novel diagnostics, molecular pathogenesis, immunology, experimental therapeutics, clinical trials of vaccine and therapeutics, and global health and one health research. The EID Programme aims to develop partnerships throughout the SEA region by developing laboratories and epidemiologic capacity, training scientists and physicians from partnering countries to make Singapore a viable surveillance centre for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.