June 2013| ISSUE 6
Meet LKCMedicine’s New Infectious Disease Expert

By Wahida Hussain

Professor Annelies Wilder-Smith

Professor Annelies Wilder-Smith has joined LKCMedicine as a Full Professor with Tenure for Infectious Diseases Research.

A world renowned expert in travel and tropical medicine, she is the President-elect of the International Society of Travel Medicine, Past-President of the Asia Pacific Society of Travel Medicine, and was Chair of the Regional Conference of the ISTM in Singapore last year.

“It’s exciting to be able to shape the direction of infectious diseases research and training,” she says, enthusiastic about being part of Singapore’s newest medical school.

Professor Wilder-Smith is optimistic that LKCMedicine’s focus on research and inter-disciplinary approach will “push the current boundaries of medicine into unknown fields [and] directly benefit patients and further our understanding of public health issues.”

With a career spanning over two decades, she has led and co-led various clinical trials, published more than 130 scientific papers in international peer reviewed journals, and edited and co-edited textbooks and travel medicine books, served on various editorial boards and scientific committees, including being editorial consultant to The Lancet. Since 2006, she has been consultant to the World Health Organization and co-editor of the annual WHO publication “International travel and Health”.

With a strong interest in emerging infectious diseases, she is the Lead Principal Investigator of DengueTools, a large international research consortium funded by the European Commission to develop novel strategies for the surveillance and control of dengue (www.denguetools.net). She was also responsible for the adult cohort in a Phase 2 trial for a novel dengue vaccine in Singapore, and co-PI in a trial for an H5N1 influenza vaccine.

“I think vaccines are the most cost-effective intervention that we have after sanitation and water hygiene to reduce infectious diseases,” she says, highlighting the importance of vaccinology.

Her awards include the Myrone Levine Vaccinology Prize, the Honor Award for exemplary leadership and coordination in determining and communicating global yellow fever risk presented at the CDC Award Ceremony, the Mercator Professorship award by the German Research Foundation and the Ashdown Oration Award by the Australian College of Travel Medicine.

A firm believer of teamwork, she believes that her outstanding achievements are a result of being able to work well with others.

“Nowadays you cannot do research on your own. You need the skills of a team-based approach,” she says, echoing the School’s collaborative approach to learning.

Professor Wilder-Smith also serves as a volunteer consultant to various NGOs in Asia. In fact, just four weeks ago she was in Cambodia, where she was involved in a project that uses interactive approaches to empower the community to solve their problems.

She is also the research consultant to The Leprosy Mission and the Medical Director of a Community Health Project in Andhra Pradesh, a coastal fishermen area in south India since 2001. She has also worked in similar community development projects in Papua New Guinea, China and Nepal.

In hindsight, the mother of two and travel enthusiast has always been passionate about working in developing countries, and feels blessed to be able to combine her passion with her profession.

Her expertise and extensive experience in infectious diseases will indeed inspire LKCMedicine students to become future-ready doctors who are not afraid of the road less taken.