Illustration by Bay Song Lin, Department of Anatomy.

 

Dear Friends,

Happy National Day! As the nation marks its 52nd birthday, the NUS medical school congratulates the new doctors and nurses from the NUS Class of 2017. We are confident that our new colleagues in Singapore’s professional healthcare workforce will discharge their responsibilities and duties with unwavering professionalism, competence and compassion.

 

We also extend a very warm welcome to our incoming freshmen. Like their seniors, the Class of 2022 comprises young men and women who want to make a meaningful contribution to the health and well-being of Singaporeans. In addition to impressive academic results, these aspiring healthcare professionals are also blessed with skills and abilities and come from a varied background. Some also excel in sports, others during their national service. We have students who are gifted musicians, and others who are committed community service leaders.

 

NUS Medicine is also blessed with talented and experienced academic staff who inspire and motivate our students with their commitment to teaching and learning. Along the way, they make the School a vibrant and dynamic place for the exchange of ideas. That is why we are delighted to welcome Professor Brian K. Kennedy as a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Physiology and Director of the Centre for Healthy Ageing. Prof Kennedy’s long and distinguished career in ageing research will enhance our work to understand the human ageing process and shed light on how to extend the period of healthy life or healthspan.

 

The focus on understanding the unique biology of human ageing in Singapore is driven by the dramatic demographic shifts in the Singaporean population, which is getting older at rates nearly unparalleled in the world. Ageing is recognised as the biggest

risk factor for a wide range of chronic diseases that are increasing healthcare costs and impairing life quality in elders. By understanding ageing and developing clinical interventions, it may be possible to extend human healthspan, the disease-free and functional part of life. Much thought and investment have been expended on efforts to improve the physical and social environment for the elderly in Singapore, though biomedical approaches leveraging on the latest scientific understanding of ageing have yet to be fully applied locally.We are therefore excited to have Prof Kennedy onboard at NUS Medicine and believe his expertise will provide critical direction and momentum for our healthspan research efforts.

 

NUS Medicine researchers are also at the forefront of work in synthetic biology, in which scientists manipulate genetic code and DNA to design and construct biological systems to improve existing functions or create new solutions to benefit people and the planet. You can read about this and other fascinating work in this issue of the newsletter.

 

Last but not least, we return to the early days of NUS Medicine during Singapore’s colonial years and take a look at the life and times of the first dean of the School, Dr Desmond Faris. His story is told by his daughter, and it is a narrative that is at once absorbing and informative. This 112th year of the School, Dr Faris’ dedication and service to those he served stand as a reminder of our enduring mission as Singapore’s first medical school, one that was started by the community, for the community.

 

Happy reading.

 

Khay Guan