Updated on 18 March 2013
Prof Radda, who started to work for Singapore on a part-time basis, soon found himself getting pulled deeper and deeper into the country's biomedical research activities and finally became the chairman of BMRC in 2008.
An insider in research community
According to Prof Radda, Singapore's biomedical industry underwent a three-phase development. The first phase, 2000-05, focused on building a basic bioimaging consortium with the view that the industry would be interested in investing in R&D in Singapore. The second phase, 2005-10, saw application of the basic research in developing the industry and a clinical link, and the third phase, 2010-15, is focused on consolidating the research assets for clinical application and create a successful roadmap for the economy of the country.
Discussing the challenges involved in bringing this change, Prof Radda says finding and recruiting the right people who could actively build the biomedical research activity in Singapore was difficult. Another challenge was getting the scientists' fraternity to think about enabling their research for economic value. "Scientists were committed to their science and didn't really appreciate that there was tremendous importance in application of that science and this mindset has changed in the last three years," he says.
Prof Radda himself has done pioneering work on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods used to study the human body. His research interests include studies of enzyme regulation, bioenergetics and in vivo biochemistry in relation to human disease, in particular heart disease. His early work was on the development of fluorescent probes for the study of structure and function of membranes and enzymes. Then he became interested in the possibility of extending his work to investigate complex biological materials using NMR.
In 1974, he published the first paper on the use of phosphorus NMR to study tissue metabolites. His work led to setting up of the first clinical magnetic resonance spectroscopy unit of the world. Also, he was appointed to the newly established British Heart Foundation Chair in Molecular Cardiology at Oxford. Since then, (and later as director of the MRC Biochemical and Clinical Magnetic Resonance Unit from 1988-96) he has been involved in the development of this technique for biochemical and clinical investigations.