Pharmacology Department in 1959 at Hallower Hall on Sepoy Lines campus


By Associate Professor Fred Wong,
Head, Department of Pharmacology

Mention the numeral “60”, and many of us would think of the Merdeka Generation – the generation that worked hard and contributed to Singapore’s achievements today. But to many in the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, especially staff of the Department of Pharmacology, there is another significance to 60, as we associate it with the 60th Anniversary of the Department in 2019!


Our Origins


The Department of Pharmacology was first established in 1959 and located in the Hallower Hall on the Sepoy Lines campus. In early 1982, the Department relocated to MD2 building at the new Kent Ridge campus. In 2007, in support of a major campus re-development plan, the Department was temporarily moved to MD11, Level 5. In 2015, the Department finally relocated to our current premises in MD3.


Pharmacology “Champions”


With capable leaders to provide direction and vision, Pharmacology has grown from strength to strength. The contribution and commitment of the Heads of Department have been crucial to the development of the Pharmacological Science and we take this opportunity to acknowledge their leadership.


In 1959, Dr. Robert C.Y. Lin became our first Head of Department. He was subsequently appointed the first Professor of Pharmacology in 1962. Prof John E. Gardiner of the Royal College of Surgeons of England took over as Head from 1966 to1981. Prof Yeoh Teow Seng took over the reins from Prof Gardiner in 1981 and relinquished the Headship in 1987. He was succeeded by Prof Matthew C.E. Gwee, who handed the baton over to Prof Lee How Sung in 1987. Prof Edmund J.D. Lee helmed the department from 1999 to 2000, and Prof Peter T.H. Wong as Acting-Head from 2000 to 2003, before the arrival of Prof Philip K. Moore from King’s College, London who took over as Head from 2003 to 2007. Prof Peter Wong became Department Head and served till 2014. The current Head of Department is Assoc. Prof Fred W.S. Wong who assumed duty since 2014.


Pharmacology Department at MD3 on the Kent Ridge campus since 2015


Pharmacology “GEMS”


The Department has grown in strength and diversity over the years and today has 16 academic staff, 4 joint academic staff, 14 adjunct academic staff, 12 laboratory technologists, 5 administrative staff, 3 operation associates, 13 research fellows and 17 research assistants. The Department offers research training in Pharmacology at both undergraduate and graduate levels. We have currently some 30 graduate students pursuing PhD qualifications, more than 40 undergraduate honors and students from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROPs) conducting pharmacology research projects. We teach at least 1000 undergraduate students from various disciplines including Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Life Sciences in 17 modules.


  • Medical students class, 1960
  • A class in session, 2019


Pharmacology has a strong team of academic and research staff committed to excellence in pharmacology education and research missions. Our team has diverse research training backgrounds, from clinical pharmacology, systems pharmacology, to basic molecular and cellular pharmacology. The department offers a broad range of teaching and research specialties from pharmacokinetics, drug-receptor theory, drug targets identification and validation, agonist and antagonist drug discovery, molecular and cellular mechanisms of drug actions, disease-specific system pharmacology, drug modality development, pharmacogenetics and personalised medicine, drug development and clinical drug trials, to adverse drug reactions and toxicology. 


Pharmacology is the anchoring department for the Memory Aging Cognitive Center (MACC), the Neuroscience Phenotyping Core of the NUHS, and the Drug Discovery and Optimization Platform (DDOP) of the Medical Sciences Cluster. Prof Philip K.

Moore is heading the Drug Development Unit (DDU) at the University Level and Prof Dean Ho, our joint faculty staff member from Bioengineering, is the Director of the SINAPSE Programme. The department also has a strong presence in the University-level research institutes, including the Cancer Science Institute (CSI), the Neuroscience Programme and the Immunology Programme. In addition, we are building up scholarly research in Education via a team of educators and educationalists who work closely with the Medical Education Unit at NUS Medicine.


The department also places great emphasis on workplace safety and has won recognition and awards for its relentless efforts and contributions to promote Safety and Health Excellence at work. We are one of the first departments to win the NUS Safety & Health Award (NUSSHA) Excellence Award 2017.


Pharmacology "Happy Souls"


Care and Teamwork are core values that the Department strongly believes in. We organise regular get-togethers and team-building sessions, including bowling, gardening day, monthly fruit fiesta, Chinese New Year “Lo Hei” luncheons and Hi-Tea, visits to places of attraction including the Sentosa Sea Aquarium, and Madame Tussauds. We also have aerobics, nature walks and many other fun outings.


Next Chapter


This 60th anniversary year is a memorable and special one and a series of activities will commemorate this milestone. They include the Bioactive Lipid Workshop, Alumni Symposium, and the International Conference on Pharmacology: Advances in Translational Sciences & Drug Discovery. Looking forward, we aim to build stronger research capabilities and partnerships to facilitate our drug discovery and development efforts and aspire to create more value in education for our students. But for now, it’s simply: 

"Happy 60th Birthday Pharmacology!"

Photo of Pharmacology staff taken in 1967 (4 HODs in the photo)
Front row: John E. Gardiner (L1), Lee How Sung (middle), and Matthew C.E. Gwee (R2). Third row: Yeoh Teow Seng (L1)

Photo of Pharmacology staff taken in 2018 during Department Retreat in Sentosa, Singapore (3 HODs in the photo)
Front row: Peter T.H. Wong (R2) and W.S. Fred Wong (R5). Second row: Edmund J.D. Lee (L3)