A committee of advisers that will help draw up a framework to regulate and promote the city-state's fledging human biomedical industry held its first meeting yesterday. Lim Pin, professor of medicine at the National University of Singapore and head of the 11-member team, said his group would tackle some of the toughest moral dilemmas of the new century, including rules for genetic testing and gene therapy. 'Our job is to let them [Singaporeans] know what is happening. A lot of misconceptions have crept in,' said Professor Lim. 'Our job is to make them understand based on good, sincere science, so that there can be no quibbling.' Members of Professor Lim's team, the Bio-Ethics Advisory Committee (BAC), are a cross-section of legal, medical and government specialists, including a senior district judge, Richard Magnus, the editor of the country's main newspaper group, Cheong Yip Seng, and chairman of the national medical ethics committee, Professor Ong Yong Yau. The group will take submissions from experts in the field, religious leaders and others to form recommendations on what work was permissible as scientists rush to exploit the potential unleashed by mapping of the human genome, Professor Lim said. The challenge in Singapore was especially tough as guidelines needed to be acceptable to the wide range of faiths found in the city state. Our guiding principle is to protect the rights and welfare of individuals while allowing the biomedical sciences to develop and realise their full potential in Singapore and for the benefit of mankind, he said. The committee will pass its findings to a ministerial group headed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam. Singapore wants to make biomedicine the so-called fourth pillar of the country's manufacturing base, alongside electronics, chemicals and engineering. Last year, the Government announced S$2 billion (HK$9 billion) in funding for human biomedical research and development in both the public and private sectors. Researchers at Singapore's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology are part of an international consortium pushing to sequence the genetic code of the puffer fish, or fugu , which has a near-identical genetic map to that of humans. The results would help pinpoint which bits of the human genetic code are responsible for which functions. Professor Lim said the BAC would also take submissions from similar panels elsewhere in the world, which may have made faster progress. 'We don't want to re-invent the wheel,' he said. 'But we have got to adapt before we adopt.' The committee will hold seminars and meetings to gather evidence and promote understanding of its work. 'We want to arrive at a collective morality on these issues. It won't be easy, but we will try,' Professor Lim said. 'Unless we carry people ahead with us, it will be a disaster.'