The balancing acts


During summer vacations, my siblings, cousins and I—then still full of youthful invincibility—would gorge on ripe and succulent Dasheri mangoes while our grandmother cautioned us about eating one too many. Yet more often than not, one of us would end up sick. Her words have stayed with me till today. Excess of anything is not considered good. Moderation, or in other words a balance, is the key.

Whether as a nation or planet, the realisation is sinking in gradually that we must prepare and learn to live with a virus that is transitioning from pandemic to endemic.

We are already in a heightened mode of balancing, at times even subconsciously—increased hygiene, masking up, social distancing, etc. (at least the more responsible among us). We are already more inclined to get the vaccine. And we are already working, living and playing in a hybrid, new way.

If that isn’t a balancing act, what else is?!

Our lead story on inflammation, explores another type of balance—a harmony of sorts that our bodies crave when not well. Inflammation may be the body’s response to fighting infection, but if generated too strongly, the same layer of protection can actually be detrimental to our wellbeing. COVID-19 is a very good example of too much inflammation, says Professor Salvatore Albani. People do not die of COVID directly, they die because their body generates too much inflammation!

We introduce MEDICUS – the Podcast in this issue and talk to Professor Wang Linfa on the possibilities of a “super vaccine” to beat all the little nasty SARS-like viruses swamping the planet from all directions. That is one vaccine I can’t wait to take.

Continuing the sub-theme of balancing, we delve into the fascinating world of sleep with Joshua Gooley as we unravel the mysteries behind his entry into studying one of the most elusive subjects. From Harvard to Duke-NUS with his own lab to research sleep and circadian rhythms. Stuff that dreams are made of.

And finally, I can’t be excited enough to invite you to hear straight from Duke University President Professor Vincent Price and NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye as Dean Professor Thomas Coffman asks them a volley of questions from the mental wellbeing of students and staff, the future of higher education to their favourite activities outside of work.

And of course, there is plenty more to browse in our Campus and People sections.

I welcome you to this issue of MEDICUS. Happy reading. And please don’t forget to send us your feedback on how we can make it better or send in your burning question for our experts and we’ll answer them in the next issue

Looking forward to transforming medicine and improving lives with you for the world.


Anirudh Sharma

Anirudh Sharma

Nicole Lim

Writers and contributors
Chua Li Min
Dionne Seah
Drima Chakraborty
Jessie Chew
Lekshmy Sreekumar
Nicole Lim

Editorial Committee
Christopher Laing, Duke-NUS
Foo Suan Jong, Duke-NUS
Jenne Foo, Duke-NUS
Jenny Ang Thar Bin, SingHealth
Michael Schoenfeld, Duke University
Ovidia Lim-Rajaram, National University of Singapore
Patrick Casey, Duke-NUS
Reza Shah Bin Mohd Anwar, Duke-NUS
Sandy Cook, Duke-NUS

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