Banner Image for News

All News

Thursday, 06 Jul, 2023

Professor Patrick Tan recognised for his exceptional leadership with Public Sector Transformation Award

Professor Patrick Tan, Duke-NUS’ newly appointed Senior Vice-Dean for Research, received the Exemplary Leader Award during the 2023 Public Sector Transformation Award Ceremony for his team science approach that has enabled his staff to address large-scale and complex challenges.

Prof Tan was one of 115 public service officers and teams recognised at the ceremony, held at OnePunggol on 5 July, for their outstanding work and the solutions they contributed to some of Singapore’s most pressing needs.

The Exemplary Leader Award is given to individuals who have led and grown their teams, pursued excellent service, stimulated innovation and drove change within their teams.

“I am very grateful and appreciative of the award, which is an example of how science and technology can improve the lives of Singaporeans,” said Prof Tan.

As Executive Director of A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore, Prof Tan established the Institute as a leader in genomic research in Southeast Asia. He achieved this by charting the Institute’s direction with a ten-year roadmap that set out priorities for the strategic allocation of public resources—a model that has been recognised across A*STAR.  

Leading by example, Prof Tan inspired scientists at the Institute to embrace “team science” to address large, complex challenges. This approach earned him and his collaborators a string of publications and accolades, including the President’s Science Award in 2015 and the American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award in 2018.

He also charged early-career scientists at the Institute to develop innovative new programmes, providing dedicated funding to support such initiatives. Prof Tan’s efforts contributed significantly to the growth of Singapore’s scientific talent pool and helped attract international talent to seek opportunities in the city-state.

Under his leadership, the Institute saw several innovations advance into clinical trials for cancer patients.

As Executive Director of Precision Health Research Singapore (PRECISE), Prof Tan coordinated the National Precision Medicine programme. Genomic data from the programme is already being used by clinicians to improve the care of Asian patients with genetic diseases. In addition, working with the Ministry of Health and the Life Insurance Association, he contributed to the introduction of a moratorium on the use of genetic information for insurance purposes to ensure no one will be discriminated against because of their genes.

Prof Patrick Tan

During the pandemic, Prof Tan led Operational Stronghold, where he led the setup of a COVID-19 testing facility to boost the nation’s testing capacity at a time of acute need. To achieve this, Prof Tan garnered support from colleagues across A*STAR research institutes, National University Health System, and other strategic partners to set up the laboratory. The laboratory processed its first tests just three months after the Operational Stronghold was launched.

In all his leadership roles, Prof Tan championed staff wellbeing and mental health. At the Genome Institute of Singapore, for example, he set up several programmes to provide support and training to staff. Among these is a staff recreation club as well as brown bag lunches, where senior and junior faculty can network.

And during the pandemic, he went on a daily round of the Operation Stronghold laboratory to check in on staff.

Describing his leadership philosophy, Prof Tan summed it up as “teams trump individuals”.

“By embracing diversity and different ways of thinking, by working together, we can tackle any challenge,” he said.

Professor Thomas Coffman, Dean of Duke-NUS, said: “Patrick is a role model for aspiring cancer researchers and geneticists.  His scientific accomplishments and leadership have had substantial impact on Singapore’s biomedical research ecosystem, and I look forward to Patrick bringing his talents to the role of Senior Vice-Dean of Research at Duke-NUS.”

Public Sector Transformation Awards span 13 categories, ranging from whole-of-government awards to individual awards.

Colleagues and teams from the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) were also recognised, receiving Citizen Engagement Excellence, Service Delivery Excellence, Dare-to-Do and Exemplary Leader Awards. They join previous Public Sector Transformation Award recipients from the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC.