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​SDGHI seeks to improve health outcomes and reduce the burden of disease through support of evidence-based research. To this end, we facilitate research partnerships, fund pilot research grants for faculty and build on-site research capability of our collaborating partners.


Professor Gavin Smith, Programme Director (Interim) and Professor in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme, Duke-NUS Medical School


Key Programmes

  • Pilot Research Grants – Pilot funds are awarded to SDGHI faculty to stimulate interdisciplinary research collaborations, with the larger goal of enabling investigators to leverage preliminary findings and data to obtain larger awards of external funding.

    • Examples include:

      • An assessment is underway on the Burden of Viral Pneumonia in Severe Paediatric Respiratory Failure.

      • Standards for Paediatric Acute and Critical Care for COVID-19 in Asia are being developed.

      • Research is taking place on impact of COVID-19 on the Management of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Asia.

      • A synthesis of COVID-19 mitigation strategies across ASEAN countries has been initiated.


  • ACP Programme Funding for Global Health – SDGHI collaborates with the Joint Office of Academic Medicine (JOAM) to foster the Academic Clinical Programme (ACP) activities in Global Health, to advance knowledge and/ or practice in academic medicine by the faculty.

    • Examples include:

      • Efforts are ongoing to characterise Wilms tumour in Vietnam to aid refinement of risk stratification in Asian patients and develop validated molecular diagnostic capabilities.

      • A Singapore-Regional Initiative of Global Health Action to Improve Networks in Stroke is being established.

      • An assessment is underway to assess Emergency Medical Services Systems in the ASEAN region.


  • Joint Grants - SDGHI collaborated with other external institutions to foster global health research in the region. The Joint Duke Schools Grant in collaboration with the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) and Duke Kunshan University (DKU) focused on ways to strengthen health systems to better prepare for and respond to pandemics in Asia Pacific countries. The SDGHI and Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH) Joint Funding Initiative aimed to build global health research in Asia in the areas of health systems strengthening, health equity, neglected tropical diseases and global surgery.

    • Joint Duke Schools Grant
      • The application of Molecular Diagnostics for COVID-19 and Dengue for strengthening healthcare systems in the region is being examined.

      • A Duke Pre-pandemic Respiratory Virus Discovery Network is being established through molecular mechanisms for routine and novel respiratory virus detection and characterisation in Vietnam and China.

      • An evaluation of the impact of COVID-19 on patients with diabetes in the Philippines and China to strengthen urban primary care with a focus on eHealth is ongoing.

      • An assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 on tuberculosis treatment among rural-to-urban migrants in China and Vietnam is underway.


  • Travel Grants – SDGHI provides international travel awards to support SDGHI faculty and junior investigators to explore new research opportunities by visiting potential collaborators. An expected outcome is the development and submission of research proposals to the SDGHI Pilot Research Grant call and/ or other relevant funding opportunities. However, this is currently on hold given the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.

    • 2019 Travel Grants
      • Travel funding was provided to explore global health research opportunities related to Pediatric Critical Care in multiple sites in Indonesia with a focus on communicable diseases and health systems strengthening.

      • Travel funding was provided to explore the development of a global health research project on comparing ASEAN Emergency Medical Services Systems for the Validation of the ROSC After Cardiac Arrest (RACA) Score in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.


Ongoing Initiatives

  • Partnerships and collaboration – SDGHI collaborates with organisations and partners in the region who have shared goals towards improving health outcomes, increasing regional health security and strengthening health systems through targeted research projects in the region.

  • Building research talent – SDGHI provides opportunities for young researchers on research proposal development through organised workshops.