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Johns Hopkins' Singapore center to close

SINGAPORE --Singapore said Tuesday a Johns Hopkins University biomedical research facility it has been funding will close within a year because it has failed to meet performance goals.

The Singapore government's Agency for Science, Technology and Research, or ASTAR, said the Division of Johns Hopkins in Singapore did not meet research and education goals despite receiving 82 million Singapore dollars (US$52 million) in funding since 1998.

The division failed to attract top scientists to the city-state -- one of the "mutually agreed" objectives of setting up the center, said Dr. Andre Wan, director of ASTAR's biomedical research council, in a statement.

Wan said the research facility had also not met eight out of 13 performance benchmarks.

"We cannot justify the continuation of public funding for a collaboration that has failed to yield results for Singapore," Wan said, according to the statement.

Talks reached a stalemate in May and ASTAR informed the Baltimore-based university it would wind down the facility over 12 months and refocus its attention on a new collaboration, ASTAR said.

The agency said the research center's 60 staff and faculty would receive help either relocating to Baltimore or finding new employment in Singapore.

The research center, which was set up with a medical clinic, was Johns Hopkins' first health care facility outside the United States. The clinic, John Hopkins Singapore International Medical Center, is unaffected by the closure of the research arm.

ASTAR's statement follows a newspaper report in which the university said it had done its part to recruit faculty and graduate students, and that it was Singapore who had failed to meet its financial and educational obligations. Johns Hopkins University public relations officers in Baltimore could not immediately be reached by phone after office hours to confirm the report.

In a push to establish itself as a regional biomedical hub, Singapore has encouraged investment in research and development of the biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors, and actively courted drug companies to base themselves in the city-state.

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