Round-up of Duke-NUS’ latest people news

In June, the Duke-NUS Class of 2011 celebrated its tenth anniversary since taking their first steps into the world of healthcare while some of their juniors continued to do the School proud, earning top awards. At the same time, Duke-NUS Governing Board member Professor Fong Kok Yong along with clinician faculty, administrators and healthcare professionals from the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) was recognised with National Day Awards while three faculty from Duke-NUS were appointed Provost’s Chairs. In a further show of unity, medical students across Singapore’s three medical schools formed a new alliance and innovators, researchers and budding entrepreneurs across the AMC can now tap a new resource to help speed their ideas across the translational divide to patients’ bedsides. The AMC also launched two complementary new entities, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Regenerative Medicine Institute of Singapore and SingHealth Duke-NUS Cell Therapy Centre, to boost regenerative and cell therapies, while the Duke-NUS 15th anniversary commemorative book received two nods at the recent APEX Publishing awards.

Former and current Duke-NUS Governing Board members, clinician faculty and administrators receive top National Day honours

While National Day celebrations had to be adjusted due to ongoing safety measures, the National Day Awards provided an opportunity to celebrate those who dedicated themselves to serving the nation.

Mr Peter Seah

The highest honour awarded in 2021, the Order of Nila Utama (with Distinction) went to Mr Peter Seah, former Chairman of the SingHealth Board of Directors, in recognition of his efforts to elevate the country’s healthcare, education, finance and aviation sectors as well as boosting its tripartite movement.

Former Duke-NUS Governing Board member Mrs Fang Ai Lian received the Public Service Star (Bar) while Duke-NUS Professor Ho Lai Yun received the Public Service Star. Ho pioneered many perinatal programmes and led the development of the early childhood intervention ecosystem in Singapore.

Professor Fong Kok Yong, who serves on the Duke-NUS Governing Board received the Public Administration Medal (Gold) while Clinical Associate Professor Wong Kok Seng received the Public Administration Medal (Silver).


They were joined by more than 50 other recipients of National Day honours including Duke-NUS alumni Clinical Assistant Professor Lim Kheng Choon (Class of 2011), who received the Commendation Medal (Military) and HR Senior Associate Director Mr Reza Shah Mohd Anwar who received the Commendation Medal.

Three Duke-NUS professors fly the flag high with appointments to Provost’s Chairs

In June, Professor Lok Shee Mei from the Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme and Professor Zhang Suchun, Director of Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders (NBD) Programme, received prestigious NUS Provost’s Chair Professorships. They join Professor Wong Tien Yin, Vice-Dean of Academic & Clinical Development, who has been re-appointed as a Provost’s Chair for a second term.

Prof Lok Shee Mei

“It’s a very nice recognition of our scientific contributions to the flavivirus field and also to Duke-NUS and NUS. It will encourage us to further pursue knowledge and go on to achieve ground-breaking discoveries. The next big thing is to understand how the dengue virus invades cells and how some of the non-structural proteins can cause severe disease. By studying these, we can design therapeutics that will block these pathways.”

Professor Lok Sheemei

Prof Zhang Suchun

“It is an honour to me, my research group and my programme. As the program director, I will work with my faculty and staff to move up the standing of our program to another level in research, teaching and innovation. For my research group, I hope to see one of our research projects—stem cell therapy for Parkinson's disease—to move toward clinical translation.”

Professor Zhang Suchun

Duke-NUS alumni clinch top national and SingHealth awards


"I was very humbled to receive the award. It was unexpected because there were many teams working on the national COVID response in the migrant worker dormitories, and I was but a small part of it. During my time at the frontline of dormitory operations, there was a clear purpose in my team's work, and we could see that the migrant workers were very appreciative of our care. It was challenging but satisfying to adapt to rapidly evolving policies as the pandemic unfolded. It was also refreshing to work with a wide range of stakeholders, including the dormitory operators, employers and the Singapore Armed Forces."

Class of 2017 alumnus Dr Wu Hong King (back right) received the Singapore Health Quality Service Award 2021 COVID-19 Edition Superhero Merit Award for his contributions to Singapore’s pandemic control efforts. At first, he ran a medical post at one of the migrant worker dormitories with a team of volunteers from Changi General Hospital and the guidance of senior colleagues. Subsequently, he acted as the liaison officer representing SingHealth at the Joint Taskforce (Assurance)—the committee coordinating pandemic control efforts across the migrant worker dormitories in Singapore. The Singapore Health Quality Service Awards COVID-19 Edition honoured outstanding healthcare professionals who contributed significantly to the nation's fight against COVID-19.

Dr Wu Hong King (back right)

"Winning this award validates the important contribution and sacrifices made by my research team. I could never have won the award without them. We have learnt so much from each other over the last few years, and I am hoping for their continued support for many more years to come."

Dr Paul Tan

Class of 2013 alumnus Dr Paul Tan, an associate consultant with the department of Women’s Anaesthesia at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, received the National Outstanding Clinician Scientist Resident Award earlier this year. The award, first introduced in 2017, recognises Clinician Scientist Residents for their outstanding performances and contributions in clinical training and research to improve patient care. It is given to only two clinician scientist residents each year and out of the eight recipients so far, four are Duke-NUS alumni. Tan’s research focuses on improving the way analgesics are administered to better meet the pain relief needed by individual patients through better prediction before surgery or childbirth and developing technology so that patient experiences, efficiency and outcomes can be improved.

Duke-NUS and SingHealth jointly launch the Academic Medicine Innovation Institute
Duke-NUS and SingHealth jointly launch the Academic Medicine Innovation Institute

From a novel coronavirus immunity test to harnessing the medical benefits of video gaming consoles, innovations across the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) have been flourishing. In a further boost to innovators across the AMC, Duke-NUS and SingHealth announced the establishment of the Academic Medicine Innovation Institute (AMII) on 28 June 2021. The new Institute, officially launched by SingHealth Group CEO Ivy Ng, will provide a virtual framework to foster a culture of innovation and facilitate the sharing of best practices at the AMC.

Highlighting the event’s tagline of “Let Today’s Ideas Take Flight for Tomorrow’s Care”, Duke-NUS Dean Professor Thomas Coffman stressed that “innovation can take many shapes and forms” and that “anyone can start on the journey of innovation”.

“Innovation transcends ranks and professions. Indeed, innovation unites our community. When we innovate and work together across our disciplines, we become more than the sum of our parts. This is a secret sauce of the AMC. By working together, we can make greater things happen,” said Coffman.

Read more: Duke-NUS and SingHealth jointly launch the Academic Medicine Innovation Institute

Ten-year reunion for Duke-NUS’ inaugural cohort of MD students

On 19 June, Duke-NUS's Alumni Relations team organised a virtual ten-year reunion for its inaugural cohort of graduates—the Class of 2011. The alumni were joined by faculty and staff and together, they reminisced about the good old days.

Class of 2011

New national alliance represents the voice of all local medical students

To enhance collaboration among medical students and deliver more impactful community outreach activities, Singapore’s three medical schools joined forces on 12 June to form a national body that will support the holistic development of medical students in Singapore.

Joining the deans and students from the three medical schools, Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, attended the virtual ceremony as Guest-of-Honour. Together with the three deans, he was witness to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Duke-NUS’s Student Council, the NUS Medical Society and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine’s Student Medical Society.

Read more: Duke-NUS students partner their undergraduate peers to form Singapore’s first national student body

TriMedSoc signing of MOU

Two new entities on the Outram campus will boost regenerative and cell therapies

In May, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) launched a research institute and disease centre that will advance regenerative medicine and introduce cellular therapies to improve patient care. The SingHealth Duke-NUS Regenerative Medicine Institute of Singapore (REMEDIS) and the SingHealth Duke- NUS Cell Therapy Centre (SDCT) will bring together multidisciplinary expertise and focus efforts in regenerative medicine research and its application for diagnostics and therapies to improve treatment outcomes for patients. Both entities will be led by National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) Medical Director and Duke-NUS Clinical Professor William Hwang, who will head the SDCT and co-direct REMEDIS with Duke-NUS Professor Teh Bin Tean, who is also the deputy director for research at NCCS.

One of the projects under the newly launched REMEDIS is a collaboration with Cordlife to test a novel technology that expands the number of blood-forming stem cells from stored umbilical cord blood (UCB) in a first-in-man study in Singapore. This is the first time a home-grown UCB cell therapy is being tested on humans. The technology has the potential to increase treatment options for patients suffering from blood cancers or blood-related conditions.

Two Excellence Awards for Duke-NUS ’15 Years of Impact’ commemorative book

‘Duke-NUS Medical School: 15 Years of Impact’ commemorative book received the two Excellence Awards at the 33rd Annual APEX Awards for Publication Excellence, which were awarded in July.

Relive the most impactful moments in Duke-NUS’ history here.

APEX 2021 Award of Excellence
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