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Thursday, 09 Jun, 2022

Singapore confers Honorary Citizen Award on Professors Ranga Krishnan and Duane Gubler

Former Duke-NUS Dean Professor Ranga Krishnan and Duke-NUS Emeritus Professor Duane Gubler today received the Honorary Citizen Award—Singapore’s top honour for foreigners—for their valuable contributions to the country. The award was presented to the two Duke-NUS pioneers by Singapore President Madam Halimah Yacob during a ceremony held at the Istana. They join fellow Duke-NUS trailblazer Professor Victor Dzau, who received the award in 2019, among an illustrious group of recipients.

Reflecting on his honorary Singapore citizenship, Prof Krishnan was humbled and deeply grateful.

“Singapore gave me a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of building a new medical school and a truly outstanding academic health system. I am thankful for that opportunity and for the chance to participate in the transformation of Singapore’s health system and biotech sector to be a true global leader,” said Prof Krishnan, who serves as the chairman of the National Medical Research Council (NMRC) in Singapore and chief executive officer of the Rush University System for Health in the US.

As the longest-serving Chairman of the NMRC Board, he has been instrumental in championing and advancing excellence in health and biomedical sciences. In particular, Prof Krishnan has strengthened the Council’s support of translational research in key areas such as ageing, health services research and innovation.

Former Duke-NUS Dean Prof Ranga Krishnan talked about his memories of setting up the School with his successor Prof Thomas Coffman during a fireside chat

Former Duke-NUS Dean Prof Ranga Krishnan talked about his memories of setting up the School with his successor Prof Thomas Coffman during a fireside chat held earlier today

But at Duke-NUS, he is best known and loved as the School’s second dean, taking over from Founding Dean Professor Sandy Williams in 2008. During his time at the helm of Duke-NUS, Prof Krishnan was instrumental in laying the foundations for the School and the broader SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, joining the SingHealth Board in 2013, a seat he only relinquished earlier this year.

Through these appointments, he helped steer the academic medicine partnership between Duke-NUS and SingHealth so that the AMC could grow into the leader in medical research and education that the centre has become today.

“As our second Dean, Ranga helped establish Duke-NUS as an innovator in medical education and with SingHealth Group CEO Prof Ivy Ng, laid the foundation for our outstanding academic medical centre,” said Professor Thomas Coffman who took over as Dean from Prof Krishnan in 2015.

Prof Krishnan’s influence also led to the establishment of the Centre of Regulatory Excellence at Duke-NUS, the first dedicated centre in Asia targeted to the needs of national health regulators and other stakeholders.

Kamini Kunasegaran receives Asian Scientist Lab Tech of the Year 2021 MiRXES COVID-19 Hero Award

Emeritus Professor Duane Gubler

Also receiving the Honorary Citizen Award was Prof Gubler, whose ties with Singapore date back to 1977 when he attended a World Health Organisation dengue meeting held here. Since then, he has served on numerous expert advisory panels for the Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency (NEA), advocating tirelessly for dengue prevention and control.

Beyond his work on dengue, Prof Gubler was the founding director of Duke-NUS’ Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme, making a point to incorporate the lessons learnt from Singapore’s SARS experience in 2003 and the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that foresight more than paid off—with Duke-NUS’ EID team delivering world-class breakthroughs including isolating the virus and developing diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Duane for his selfless efforts to spearhead the development of the EID programme at Duke-NUS and shape it into a leading programme not only in terms of research impact, but also in the training of the next generation of infectious disease professionals. This had great impact on Singapore’s readiness to face the COVID-19 threat.” said Duke-NUS Senior Vice-Dean for Research Professor Pat Casey, who was instrumental in recruiting Prof Gubler to Duke-NUS in 2007.

Prof Gubler was—and remains—an inspiration to many young scientists in Singapore, generously sharing his wealth of knowledge and he continues to serve the nation as Chair of the NEA’s Dengue Expert Advisory Panel, which guides the development and piloting of the novel Wolbachia technology that has successfully reduced the risk of dengue in the study sites. He is also a sought-after commentator who regularly shares his insights through expert commentaries, including this commentary on COVID-19 published in the South China Morning Post.

On receiving this recognition, Prof Gubler said: “Words cannot convey how humbled I am to receive Honorary Citizenship from a great country like Singapore.”

“I have watched Singapore evolve into a global public health and economic leader, becoming a model for other countries to emulate. I am proud to have been a part of this evolution but any contribution I may have made must be attributed to the many Singaporean colleagues and friends whom I have worked with over the years,” he added.

Introduced in 2003, the life-long award is the highest form of recognition bestowed by the Singapore government on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s growth and development in the areas of business, science and technology, information communications, education, health, artist and culture, sports, tourism, community services or security. To date, 23 individuals have received the award.