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Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory

Features 03 May 2021

(Photo Credit: Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory Limited)

Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory Limited (TLL) has come on board as Temasek Trust’s (TT) latest designated beneficiary. TT provides governance and financial oversight of a $625M STEM Endowment gifted by Temasek with the mandate to advance science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the promotion of partnerships and collaborations across institutions, entities and agencies in Singapore. With the STEM Endowment and TLL’s induction as a designated beneficiary of TT, effective 1 April 2021, TT is able to directly fund TLL for the work that it is doing to further scientific research and innovations.

Jointly established by National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Temasek in 2002, TLL’s vision is to build an organisation of global talent to undertake bio-molecular science research and applications to benefit people in Asia and beyond. A research institute affiliated with the NUS and NTU, TLL has put forward research that now forms the foundation of biotechnology innovation.

TLL’s focus and work has evolved as it has grown over the years. Prior to 2012, TLL was primarily focused on scientific discovery and capacity building. Thereafter, TLL developed capability towards work that is more purpose-driven in recognition of key challenges facing the world. TLL has built their competencies to create new knowledge and new enterprises addressing issues brought about by the threats of overpopulation, food shortage, shortage of arable soil and water, climate change, and emerging diseases. This shift saw TLL become a registered IPC in 2015, and saw them incorporate Temasek Life Sciences Accelerator (TLA) and The Life Sciences Innovation Fund (TLIF) in 2016 and 2018 respectively, to extend TLL’s innovation axis and meaningfully amplify the impact and contributions of their work to society.

Today, TLL is focused on the positive impact it can bring to Singapore and the region, and aims to maximise its contributions to the community and to sustainability. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted escalating global challenges and evolving global development trends but also brought about effective partnerships across institutions and disciplines that multiply the potential of scientific innovation. TLL aims to harness the power of life sciences to improve lives, and combines their research capabilities with strategic external partnerships to create longer-lasting impact. Leveraging its capabilities in agri-food technology, industrial and synthetic biology, and human and veterinary sciences, TLL is working tirelessly to address challenges around food security, sustainability, and health and well-being respectively.

To address food security, TLL is developing a range of unique vegetable varieties, such as through molecular plant pathology and marker-assisted breeding. This, for instance, has allowed for the development of Temasek rice, which is climate and bacteria-resistant and high-yielding. TLL’s work in plant transformation and tissue culture is further effectively addressing sustainability issues by paving the way for large scale sustainable production of economically important trees. The team is also supporting NParks’ OneMillionTrees Movement by using tissue culture to propagate and conserve critically endangered tree species.

Finally, TLL has developed the Zero2.5 plant ionizers in support of health and well-being. TLL scientists discovered that plants’ generation of negative air ions (NAIs) effectively reduces the amount of harmful particles in surrounding air, and determined ways to safely amplify the amount of NAIs they generate. Researchers are now collaborating with government agencies to determine how the ionizers can be used in our fight against COVID-19. These are a few of many examples where TLL’s work contributes to the betterment of our community and environment.

Home to 170 scientists of 20 different nationalities, TLL’s work is in direct support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contributes significantly to Temasek’s vision of an Active, Beautiful, and Clean (ABC) world. We look forward to working closely with TLL in time to come, and to enabling their capacity to maximise their positive impact for our society and for future generations.

To find out more about TLL and their work, please visit: http://www.tll.org.sg/