Prof Koh Woon Puay heads the Centre for Clinician-Scientist Development (CCSD), established in January this year with the mission of nurturing clinician-scientists (CSes) in our AMC. She reminisces, “In 2012, I was about mid-way through my University tenure, and decided that instead of simply doing more research to publish more papers, I should invest my time growing others. Professors Soo Kee Chee and John Rush invited me to join the exciting work of growing the number of clinician-scientists (CSes) on this campus, and this has turned out to be one of the best moves in my career.”
Prof Koh directs the various programmes in CCSD, and works closely with Professors Wang Jie Jin and Balram Chowbay, CCSD core faculty members, and she is also well-supported by Duke-NUS senior scientists who are mentors for junior CSes. At the frontline of CCSD are Chen Meixuan, Fion Farn and Angie Tan—the three energetic and personable Clinician-Scientist Managers who are managing about 100 clinicians in the fourteen academic clinical programmes (ACPs), organizing ACE-in-Grants and Research Skill workshops, handling various Khoo grants, running Women-in-Science network and carrying out day-to-day administration.
Fion related her experience, “Initially it was quite awe-inspiring for us to meet our talented clients, but they are actually just like everyone else - juggling kids, work problems, balancing family lives. Many have started off with few publications and small grants, but they climb the CS career ladder with passion and determination. When they succeed, we celebrate with them and feel their gratitude and friendship. It’s really satisfying despite the hard work.”
Given that becoming a successful CS requires outstanding ability, phenomenal focus, unwavering commitment and loads of hard work, the CCSD team has adopted the 3 Ps in their strategies for talent development – Personalized career development plan, Personal CS-managers for support, and close Partnership with the ACP leadership. Prof Koh has personally met over 150 individuals since August 2014 to provide each one with an individualized development plan, and among them, many promising ones have received structured training, formal mentoring, statistical support and pilot grants, and gone on to achieve success in winning competitive grants and making scientific discoveries in their research.
Prof Koh quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” This is exactly how the team at CCSD have defined their KPI (Key Performance Indicator) – to do what they can to empower budding clinician-researchers to achieve success in research – and to do so by helping one at a time.