Singapore Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology (SSMB)

SSMB 40th Annual General Meeting

Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2013

200 - 245pm Talk 1 (Emerging and re-emerging infections in Singapore)

245 - 330pm Talk 2 (Effective Microorganisms)

330 - 400pm SSMB AGM

400 - 430pm Tea & cake


Clinical Research Centre,

10 Medical Drive,

Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine,

National University of Singapore


Abstract 1


Emerging and re-emerging infections in Singapore 

Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin  

Emerging and re-emerging infections defined as an infectious disease that has newly appeared in a population or that has been known for some time but is rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. In the middle of last centaury, improved sanitation coupled with the availability of vaccine and anti-microbial has changed the landscape of infectious diseases; smallpox was successfully eradicated, common infections in the past such as diphtheria, typhoid are uncommon today. However, we continue to face different challenges from the microbes.


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1992 introduced the concepts on factors of emergence. The factors identified were closely related to human activities that changed the ecology of the microbiological world. These included microbial adaptation and change, human demographics and behaviour (eg urbanisation), the breakdown of public health, impact of new technology and industry, international travel and commerce, and economic development and land use. New emergence factors were added to the list in 2003; human susceptibility to infection, climate and weather, changing ecosystems, poverty and social inequality, war and famine, lack of political will (that ties in with the breakdown of public health), and the intent to harm (bioterrorism).


Over the past 2-3 decades, more than 30 new, or newly-recognised, infections have been identified around the world. In the local setting, we experienced Nipah outbreak in 1999 and SARS in 2003; both involved novel pathogen, the first local outbreak of chikungunya in 2008, pandemic H1N1 in 2009 and the re-emerging dengue in the last 1-2 decades. We review the challenges faced in managing these outbreaks in Singapore.



Abstract 2

Effective Microorganisms 

Dr Hia Hui Ching  

Environmental consultant

Microorganisms have existed for billions of years and are the oldest life forms on Earth. However, rapid industrialization with the extensive use of synthetic chemicals brought about serious pollution issues that kill not only the bad microbes, but also the good ones around us.

Effective Microorganisms (EM) are a mixed culture of beneficial microorganisms mostly found in fermented food. EM is made up of three main species – phototrophic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria and yeast. EM Technology was developed in 1982 by Professor Dr. Teruo Higa from the University of Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan. EM was originally used as an alternative for agricultural chemicals. Today, EM has applications worldwide in sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation, industrial, household and health care. EMTM is produced in more than 59 countries around the world and is distributed to more than 120 countries.

This talk will include a brief introduction of EM and its applications, as well as a hands-on session on the activation of EM for domestic use. Audience are requested to bring along a used 500-ml PET bottle containing 400 ml of clean tap water to produce EM for home. 


Invited Speakers  


Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin currently heads the Department of Infectious Diseases of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. She is also the concurrent Clinical Director of Communicable Disease Centre, Singapore. Professor Leo graduated from the NUS in 1983 and obtained her Masters of Medicine and MRCP in 1989. Her sub-specialty fields in infectious diseases include HIV medicine, communicable diseases and outbreak management. Besides her busy clinical practice, she is also actively involved in teaching and research. Topics of her research interest include dengue, influenza, emerging infections, and HIV. She has more than 100 peer reviewed publications and is widely accepted as an outstanding Clinician-Researcher in Singapore.


Dr Hia Hui Ching has an avid interest in environmental issues and healthy eating. She graduated from Osaka University, Japan in 2004 with a PhD in Environmental Engineering, worked as a research scientist for 5 years in bioprocessing and stem cells BTI, A*STAR and then decided it was not her calling. In 2011, Hui Ching was engaged by Tanah Sutera Development Sdn Bhd in Johor Bahru as an environmental consultant to advocate the use of EM (Effective Microorganisms) in the environment and the neighbourhood. Hui Ching currently lives in Singapore with her husband and two young daughters Sophie and Bella.  



Please RSVP to Benson Chua at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it