December 2015 | Issue 21
LKCMedicine Executive Vice-Dean awarded Imperial top honour

LKCMedicine Executive Vice-Dean Professor Lionel Lee was honoured with the prestigious Imperial College Medal during the Commemoration Day ceremonies held on Monday, 19 October, for his outstanding contribution to the establishment of LKCMedicine and collaboration with Imperial.

Imperial President Professor Alice Gast presented the Medal to him in front of more than 8,300 guests at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The Medal recognises meritorious or praiseworthy service to the College or for having otherwise enhanced its reputation, mission and objectives.

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Prof Lee receives the Imperial College Medal from Imperial President Prof Gast at the Commemoration Day ceremonies on Monday, 19 October (Courtesy of Imperial College London/Thomas Angus)

Prof Lee, who joined LKCMedicine as Chief Operating Officer in 2011 before being appointed Executive Vice-Dean in 2013, has been at the heart of the new medical school. During a 2014 interview to document the making of the medical school, Prof Lee said that upon joining, the School’s first task was “to build a first-class management and organisation filled with motivated and collegial staff, both corporate as well as faculty and other support staff, and for us to be operationally ready to receive our first batch of students in August 2013. Thereafter, we are to steer the School towards achieving academic excellence and world-class status. That’s how I became involved and I’ve enjoyed the ride ever since.”

A view that then-Senior Vice-Dean Professor Jenny Higham echoed when reading Prof Lee’s citation, saying, “When meeting him for the first time, he was so clearly the right man for the job – his drive, skills, enthusiasm and determination all came into play ensuring the successful creation of the new school – ready in time for its inaugural staff and students.”

On receiving the Medal, Prof Lee, who was accompanied by his wife Patricia, said, “I am at once proud and humbled at receiving the Imperial College Medal. Proud because it is indeed a singular honour personally, but more so because it is recognition of the success of a great project of establishing LKCMedicine. Humbled because I am only one of so many people from the School, NTU and Imperial, who worked to engineer the making of a great medical school and it is to the leaders and staff of LKCMedicine that this award truly belongs."

Before joining LKCMedicine, Prof Lee had an illustrious career with the Singapore Armed Forces Medical Corps, rising to the rank of Brigadier-General and Chief of the Corps. He is also a strong advocate for eldercare and palliative care, having played an instrumental role in setting up the Methodist Welfare Services Geylang East Charis Activity Centre for Elders and currently is Chairman of the Governing Council of Dover Park Hospice.  

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Prof Higham reads Prof Lee’s citation during which she highlights his outstanding contribution to LKCMedicine and the cross-nationality relationships that had to be forged to ensure the success of the new School (Courtesy of Imperial College London/Thomas Angus)

Prof Lee was awarded the Medal not only for his outstanding contributions to LKCMedicine, but also for his seminal role in bringing together the two parent institutions of the School – Imperial and NTU. Prof Higham said, “Lionel has helped fuse our shared endeavour using his warmth, passion for food and even his singing on occasion. Perhaps most importantly, I know I am not alone in having found Lionel’s friendship and honest tutoring utterly invaluable, particularly about how to successfully navigate things through in a way that is appropriate within Singapore.”

The School, which celebrates its fifth anniversary since the signing of the Collaboration Agreement, has come a long way. But Prof Lee is the first to acknowledge that the work is not yet finished. “Our work is not finished until we have secured strong foundations in education and research that will truly make the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine a world-class medical school, setting high professional standards along with moral and humanitarian ideals.”