The elevated Plaza of the Clinical Sciences Building reverberated with rousing drum beats as Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean arrived to mark the official Opening of Singapore’s youngest medical school – the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) on 28 August.
Guest-of-Honour Mr Teo celebrated this milestone event with the School’s many patrons, partners and well-wishers, including Minister for Education (Higher Education & Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung, Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Lam Pin Min and Minister of State for Asia & the Pacific at the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office Mr Mark Field.
After the stirring welcome by NTU drums, Mr Teo and the welcome party made their way to the Auditorium, joining the rest of the more than 500 guests who had already taken their seats. As the Guest-of-Honour settled in his seat, the first notes of Schubert’s Quartet No. 14 rang out, presented by Class of 2019 students Christopher Chua, Jonathan Koo, Yeo Ping Chong and Ng Wei Ron. Arranged specially by Wei Ron to add an Asian twist to this Western classic, the performance saw Ping Chong playing the erhu.
Following the Quartet’s mellifluous performance, the two emcees, Class of 2020 students Goh Xin Rong and Russell Tan, kicked off proceedings as they invited LKCMedicine Governing Board and A*STAR Chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh to deliver his Welcome Address.
Recalling the early events that set the School on its path, Mr Lim said, “In all that the School was working on, we were also mindful of the challenge posed to us by then-Minister for Education, Dr Ng Eng Hen. He wanted us to infuse a new DNA into medical education in Singapore and to aspire to be a School that even Imperial would be envious of.
“What was clear to us then was that the School was made up of a partnership of three world-class institutions – and this partnership was exactly what was needed to make LKCMedicine a successful new medical school. The School is therefore in an ideal position to harness the excellence and strengths from the three partner institutions in medical education, science and technology, and healthcare delivery.”
In closing his Welcome Address, Mr Lim paid tribute to board members, past and present, the leadership of NTU, Imperial and National Healthcare Group (NHG), Ministries of Education and Health, the wider education, healthcare and biomedical community, and LKCMedicine staff and students who have been key to the School's transformative journey.
L-R: Guest-of-Honour Mr Teo delivers his opening address; Mr Lim shares the secret to the young School's successful partnership
Following this warm welcome, Guest-of-Honour Mr Teo took to the stage to deliver his Keynote Address. Building on what Mr Lim said, Mr Teo said that with Singapore’s three medical schools, the mission is not only to “increase the number of doctors, but transform how they are trained and prepared to meet our healthcare needs. Our healthcare institutions and professionals will need to embrace innovations in medical research and practice, and serve with ‘heart’ to deliver holistic care, to help Singaporeans stay in good health longer.”
He added that on his first visit to the School in February, he had the chance to meet some LKCMedicine students and try some of the new technologies used in learning and clinical practice. “I was impressed with the enthusiasm of our students, and the dedication of our researchers and staff. In this beautiful campus, we can see both the ‘hardware’ and the ‘heartware’ in place for a world-class medical education to train the doctors of tomorrow.”
Representing the UK government, Mr Field cited this partnership as one of the most concrete examples of the many collaborative ties the UK and Singapore share. He said, “I think it is no exaggeration to say that Singapore has more science and research collaborations with the UK than with any other country and we hope to continue in this vein.”
Citing the Phenome Centre and the International Phenome Centre Network as an example, he added, “These partnerships make the most vital contribution to humanity through advancing scientific and medical knowledge.”
As well as a celebration of the achievements of the young School, the event was a celebration of the pioneers whose vision transformed the School from the smallest line item on a committee agenda into a reality. Chief among them is NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson, for whom this was a particularly poignant event, having been personally involved in the School since it was first conceived back in 2007.
Prof Andersson said, “The trademark of any successful joint programme is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; and today, seven years on, we have a unique medical school that we couldn’t have created each on our own and of that we can be truly proud. It is a union and a partnership between two top global universities. Imperial is one of the top 10 highest ranked universities and NTU is the number 1 young university – young and promising I would say. By combining the strengths of both NTU and Imperial, we have created an innovative and modern curriculum that incorporates the flipped classroom and Team-Based Learning with simulation and apprenticeships, delivered in state-of-the-art facilities here in Novena and at our main campus in Jurong West.”
Adding to Prof Andersson’s comments, Imperial President Professor Alice Gast honoured the many faculty members from Imperial who championed LKCMedicine in London and Singapore. Through this partnership between NTU and Imperial, lasting layers of understanding and cooperation between Singapore and the UK on a national, university and individual level have been crafted, she said.
Prof Gast added, “The Imperial partnership with NTU and the National Healthcare Group has been mutually beneficial. We combine Imperial’s rich history and expertise in medical education with the fresh approach and quality of engagement among our partners. While developing the curriculum, our academics have been inspired to rethink our own approach to medical education in London. Our collaboration has generated innovative teaching tools and approaches that provide a wealth of ideas for improvements to medical education, and higher education in general, in Singapore, the UK and beyond.”
After Prof Gast’s speech, it was time to officially open the School. Marked with the launch of a time capsule, Mr Teo was joined by Mr Ong, Dr Lam, Mr Field, Mr Lim, Prof Andersson and Prof Gast as well as Chairman of the Lee Foundation Dr Lee Seng Tee, NHG Group CEO Professor Philip Choo and LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best to fill the time capsule. Each representative placed a historical document or memento relating to LKCMedicine into the capsule before Mr Teo closed it.
L-R: Prof Andersson places his old Nokia phone on which he received the MOE's invitation to join the Committee on the Expansion of the University Sector; the School is officially opened
By closing it, he officially opened the School. The moment was marked with a commemorative photo, for which the group onstage was joined by NTU Board of Trustees Chairman Mr Koh Boon Hwee, Permanent Secretary for Health Mr Chan Heng Kee, NTU Board of Trustees and LKCMedicine Governing Board members as well as Bishan-Toa Payoh MP Mr Saktiandi Supaat and the School's leadership.
The ceremony ended on a high note courtesy of LKCMedicine Acapella Group MedLee, who took to the stage to wow the audience with two medleys of catchy pop songs.
Following the ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy the sumptuous reception on offer. For those keen to see the Clinical Sciences Building’s bespoke-built learning and research facilities, LKCMedicine students and staff offered guided tours. At each stop, students and faculty were on hand, giving guests a glimpse of how students learn as well as an insight into the cutting-edge research conducted by the School’s scientists.