Featured Story

Honouring a dedicated physician and family man

May 30, 2018

Dr John A. Tambyah

Dr and Mrs Tambyah with his mentor Prof Seah Cheng Siang taken at a conference in Singapore.

Dr John Anantharajah Tambyah (’63) will always be remembered as a dedicated and caring man, with a passion for serving others. The late endocrinologist started volunteering as a young medical officer to help the elderly. He also helped start Rag and Flag Day while he was a medical student at the University of Singapore, which was a predecessor of the National University of Singapore (NUS), to help raise funds for those in need.

Dr Tambyah always put others before himself. To honour his contributions and continue his legacy, his family has established the Dr John A Tambyah Bursary at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

His daughter Mrs Malini Rajendran says, “We want to grant access to those who would not otherwise have had access to a medical career in the hope that they will emulate my father’s ethical, intellectual and very caring approach to healthcare of all regardless of wealth or status.”

The Bursary, awarded annually, will support the living expenses of one medical student facing financial hardship. The first Dr John A Tambyah Bursary was disbursed in AY 2012/2013 and to date, it has helped 10 medical students.

Dr Tambyah’s father passed away when he was two years old , just before the Second World War. After the trials and tribulations of war, his mother raised five children on a pension. His eldest brother Richard Tambyah (’48), a graduate of Raffles College (another predecessor of NUS) and a Mathematics teacher, was a great help to her.

Dr Tambyah’s wife and Malini’s mother Leaena says, “He was a firm believer in the value of education. He was always on the lookout for opportunities to support medical and other students in need. Even during his illness, he arranged for one of his nurses to go back to his studies which he had to interrupt due to lack of funds.”

Over the years, many NUS Medical students have benefited from his guidance. Dr Tambyah was appointed a Clinical Tutor in 1969 and continued teaching even when he went into private practice.

Dr John Tambyah also contributed to the establishment of the Diabetes Care Fund for needy patients, and strongly encouraged and supported the Association of Diabetes Educators (Singapore).


Article first published 17 August 2012, contributed by Mrs Malini Rajendran. Refreshed 30 May 2018.

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