June 2019 | Issue 42
Singapore’s Chief Health Scientist makes inaugural visit to LKCMedicine

​Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Chief Health Scientist with the Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) made his first visit to Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine)'s Novena campus on March 27 where he was hosted by Dean of LKCMedicine Professor James Best and former LKMedicine Executive Vice-Dean of Strategic Relations and International Affairs Professor Lionel Lee. 

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Prof Tan, a former President of the National University of Singapore, took on this new role in January last year, while concurrently serving as the Executive Director of the new Office for Healthcare Transformation at MOH.

In a meeting at the School's boardroom, Prof Best explained that LKCMedicine is not an offshore school of Imperial College London but a true partnership between Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU) and Imperial College London, with clinical training input by the National Healthcare Group.

"Our students enjoy the breadth of experiences with our TBL approach, flipped classroom format, and strong emphasis on communications skills. The programme is all IT-enabled, such that we are readily and immediately able to monitor our students' progress. We are confident that we are benchmarked locally and internationally," said Prof Best. Prof Best added that the first class of 52 students have since graduated and are working in hospitals across Singapore.

As MOH's Chief Health Scientist, Prof Tan had many questions during the meeting, since his role requires him to guide the ministry's research and development agenda, particularly in the domains of health and biomedical sciences. His remit also includes strengthening translational research in order to develop better ways to manage and treat diseases, and deliver clinical care. With this in view, Prof Best and Prof Lee then took Prof Tan on a tour of the key labs situated in the School's Clinical Sciences Building that are investigating the main disease areas in Singapore.

Prof Best said, "On the research side, our strategy is to work to the strengths of NHG, namely in dermatology and skin biology, mental health and neuroscience, infection and immunity, as well as metabolism and diabetes. We also have strong capabilities in population health and are now more focused on regenerative, reparative and rehabilitative medicine." LKCMedicine is also strengthening its partnership with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and leveraging NTU's strength in engineering, added Prof Best.

Showing his support, Prof Tan shared that he's looking forward to the experts in infectious diseases working together, much like getting the cancer and cardiovascular research teams to work together across Singapore, which took some 10-15 years.

Prof Tan was then invited to tour LKCMedicine's teaching facilities, where he showed keen interest in the School's use of the Anatomage Table, plastinated specimens, and 3D-printed specimens to teach anatomy. There was also a quick visit to the Learning Studio where a TBL lesson was in session. His visit was topped off with a visit to the School's Medical Library on Level 20 of CSB where he took in a panoramic view of the Singapore skyline. At the end of the visit, Prof Tan quipped, "Well, you seem to be doing things right. I look forward to seeing more success at the School."