Agency For Science Technology And Research
Press Release 15 Apr 2021

JOINT STRATEGIC RECRUITMENT OF DR KEVIN WHITE BY GIS AND NUS

Dr White’s appointment is part of GIS’ and NUS Medicine’s drive to recruit stellar scientific and industry talent into Singapore.

SINGAPORE The Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine) are pleased to announce the joint strategic recruitment of Dr Kevin White. At GIS, Dr White will come on board as Programme Director of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics (NAT), and Senior Group Leader, while at NUS Medicine, he will be Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Precision Medicine Translational Research Programme (TRP).

Dr Kevin White most recently served in roles as President and Chief Scientific Officer at Tempus, a multi-billion dollar precision medicine company in the US. He helped to found and build the company from scratch, overseeing the work of several hundred scientists who built genomic testing and predictive algorithms to treat cancer patients and other disorders.

Prior to Tempus, Dr White was the James and Karen Frank Family Professor of Human Genetics and Medicine at the University of Chicago, where he was also the Founding Director of the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology. He led the Institute from 2006 to 2016, during which he recruited a new faculty while raising more than US$150 million to advance precision medicine research.

Dr White’s research helped to pioneer the fields of functional genomics and systems biology in the late 1990s, combining the generation and analysis of large-scale biological data-sets to generate insights into complex biological systems. Since the mid-2000s, he has focused his efforts on developing new approaches for accelerating precision medicine through the analysis of large-scale omics and clinical data.

Dr White’s recognitions for innovation include the Keck Biomedical Investigator Award, the Beckman Young Investigator award, and the Crain’s Business ‘40 Under 40’ list. He has served on the scientific boards of a wide range of start-up biotech companies and foundations. In addition to Tempus, he is a founder of Provaxus and HealthSeq (now Tempus Singapore). He has also held scientific advisory board positions at institutions that include Harvard University, Yale University, Northwestern University, and the National Cancer Institute.

At GIS, Dr White will play a leadership role in orchestrating a multi-institutional programme in NAT involving A*STAR and other ecosystem partners. He will direct the NAT programme with a focus on translating NAT assets for clinical use.  He will be responsible for coordinating programmes with clear outcome-based milestones thataddress key challenges faced by the industry and medical community in implementing nucleic acid based therapeutics. Dr White will grow the NAT community in Singapore to build an end-to-end value chain involving research scientists, medical practitioners, industry partners, and regulatory stakeholders with the aim to create a vibrant innovation ecosystem for NAT development in Singapore and the region. At NUS Medicine, Dr White will lead a discovery programme in understanding the function of genetic variation in disease and biology.

Dr White said, “We are at an exciting time in the evolution of precision medicine. We are experiencing a rapid expansion of diagnostic and predictive analytic capabilities for identifying patient-specific therapeutic targets, but those capabilities are outpacing our ability to develop personalized therapeutics.” He continued, “There is a growing need for low-cost, rapidly deployable, and personalizable platforms for therapeutic development, and to advance this field the NAT programme will be focused on translating cutting-edge RNA and DNA based approaches into therapies and vaccines, using both viral and non-viral delivery mechanisms.”  

Prof Patrick Tan, Executive Director of GIS, said, “Dr White will bring a wealth of industry and scientific expertise, particularly in the conduct of early to mid-stage biotechnology companies. He will establish a world-class translational engine for NAT by working with the best that Singapore science has to offer, thereby positioning Singapore as a thought-leader for NAT in Asia and the world.”

At NUS Medicine, Dr White’s recruitment is a timely move for Singapore as it advances further into precision medicine, with customisation of healthcare tailored to individual patients or subgroups of patients, an area that has been called the future of healthcare and is supported by Singapore’s Ministry of Health.

Prof Chong Yap Seng, Dean of NUS Medicine, said, “Dr White is a fitting and valuable addition to the School. His remarkable expertise in functional genomics and precision medicine alongside his wide entrepreneurial and industry experience will position the School  as a thought leader in precision medicine in Asia and beyond. Not only will he help foster multidisciplinary collaborations between researchers in the medical sciences and computing and engineering sciences, he will also provide valuable mentorship to younger researchers, clinician scientists and graduate students who work in this field, and help them to develop their talents and expertise.”

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