Iain TAN

Senior Clinician Scientist


Translational Research is a team sport! Find out more about my team and our research philosophy at the links below:

Video : Pursue your Passion ! (SYA 2014)
Taking the battle against cancer from bench to bedside

Our Research Focus:

We're a translational research team. Our approach is to identify specific situations where advances in science & technology can be exploited to overcome current challenges in the clinical management of cancer. ​​

We focus on 3 areas:

1. Real-time diagnostics -- non-invasive testing with circulating cell free DNA.
This research is performed in partnership with Dr. Sarah Ng from the Genomic Innovation lab.

A. Early detection of cancer recurrence : We're working on finding new diagnostic methods for early detection of cancer recurrence. Cancer patients always face the risk of their cancer returning even after it has been removed. With colorectal cancer, if we pick it up early, there's still chance we can cure our patients, even if the cancer comes back. We're seeking to develop the most accurate, reliable, ultra-sensitive test that can detect recurrence at its earliest stages.

B. Inform choice of the right drug combination for the right patient at the right time. Drug resistance is a major problem in the clinic. During treatment, Cancer constantly evolves and acquires different genetic alterations leading to escape from therapeutic control. ctDNA offers a route to identify evolving alterations in real time thus equipping physicians with knowledge to stay ahead by individualizing the most optimal drug combination to control each patient's cancer across time.

2. Metastasis : In the clinic, current targeted therapies are able to shrink tumors (tumor regression) but have generally failed to prevent metastasis. Cancer is fatal because it invades and metastasizes to distant organs. Working together with Dr. Clarinda Chua (medical oncologist, NCCS), A/P Dasgupta and Dr. Tam Wai Leong (GIS), we are using patient-derived models to study mechanisms of metastasis & drug resistance and identify treatment strategies designed specifically to prevent metastasis.

3. Immuno-oncology: Our approach uses patient-derived immune cells (tumor infiltrating and peripheral immune cells) with corresponding patient derived tumor models. We seek to characterize effective and ineffective immune response in colorectal cancer and develop individualized immunotherapeutic approaches leveraging on genomic and experimental characterization of immune cells, tumor cells from the same patient. Our research platform puts together a strong translational research team comprising Dr. Koo Si-Lin (medical oncologist, NCCS), A/P Dasgupta Ram & Dr. Paul Choi (GIS) and Dr. Evan Newell (SIGN).


  • 2014 Singapore Youth Award

    2013 NMRC Individual Research Grant (as PI) $1.25 million

    2014 NMRC Clinician Scientist Award (as PI) $675,000

    2015 NMRC Individual Research Grant (as PI) $1.3 million

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