NUS-affiliated researchers who were honoured for their outstanding achievements in science and technology are (from left to right): Prof Ranga Rama Krishnan, Prof Dario Campana, Prof Liu Jianjun, and Asst Prof John Ho. (Photos: A*STAR and Singapore Clinical Research Institute)

Professor Ranga Rama Krishnan, chairman of Singapore’s National Medical Research Council (NMRC) and chief executive officer of Rush University System for Health (RUSH), was among four researchers affiliated with the National University of Singapore who received Singapore’s highest tribute in science and technology – the President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM) – from President Halimah Yacob at a special ceremony today.

The former dean of Duke-NUS Medical School was awarded the honour in recognition of his “outstanding leadership contributions to advancing the health and biomedical sciences research and innovation sector in Singapore, particularly through the strengthening of academic medicine, translational and clinical research, and the promotion of technology transfer and entrepreneurship to enhance health and support economic development in Singapore”.

In his acceptance speech, Prof Krishnan said, “I am so fortunate to have worked with so many outstanding, creative, and innovative individuals, and for their lasting friendships. Words cannot express my gratitude for giving me such opportunities.”

A renowned global leader in academic medicine and healthcare, Prof Krishnan has been a passionate and effective advocate of translational clinical research, education and entrepreneurship.

As chairman of NMRC, he has contributed greatly to the transformation of Singapore’s health and biomedical sciences sector. He has had a particular impact on the strengthening of translational clinical research and innovation, which have resulted in significant health care, education and economic benefits for Singapore.

As dean of Duke-NUS Medical School from 2008 to 2015, Prof Krishnan developed a new teaching method called Team LEAD (Learn, Engage, Apply, Develop) and cemented the foundations laid by his predecessor, Professor R Sanders “Sandy” Williams.

Speaking in a pre-recorded video that was aired during ceremony, Professor Krishnan said, “When I came to Singapore, my first focus was really building Duke-NUS in creating a next-generation of physician scientists. So we started out by deconstructing the curriculum from Duke and recreating it on the ground, [which] turned out to be a very valuable approach and one that has been adopted by many institutions around the globe.”

With Duke-NUS on a solid footing, Prof Krishnan focused on integrating the medical school with its healthcare partner to create one seamless ecosystem. Partnering SingHealth Group CEO Professor Ivy Ng, Prof Krishnan also played a critical role in laying the foundations for the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC).

“More than a thousand physicians are now part of this entity and they are playing a critical role in shaping healthcare for the future in Singapore. It’s a gratification [to see] the next generation coming to bloom and doing really well. The many institutes that have been created are truly global in impact,” said Prof Krishnan in the same recording.

Prof Krishnan’s close attention to recruiting and nurturing outstanding research faculty members and students has helped to create a vibrant and productive community at Duke-NUS and across the AMC. His contributions extend well beyond Singapore and he has held – and continues to hold – important leadership positions in the areas of medicine and healthcare systems.

“Ranga has made remarkable contributions and achievements across the biomedical ecosystem in Singapore, and as the 2nd Dean of Duke-NUS, he laid the foundations for our innovative education programmes, world-class research and thriving academic medicine culture,” said Professor Thomas Coffman, who took over at the helm of Duke-NUS from Prof Krishnan. “All of us here at Duke-NUS heartily congratulate Ranga on his well-deserved recognition.”

Top national honours for research excellence

Three NUS-affiliated researchers have also received national recognition for their excellent achievements and contributions in science and technology. At a ceremony held at the Istana on 18 December 2020, Professor Dario Campana and Professor Liu Jianjun were conferred the prestigious President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA) – this is the highest honour bestowed on research scientists and engineers in Singapore – and Assistant Professor John Ho received the Young Scientist Award.

Conferred annually, the PSTA celebrate outstanding and invaluable contributions by individuals or teams to Singapore’s research and development landscape. Similarly, the Young Scientist Awards (YSA), administered by the Singapore National Academy of Science (SNAS), and supported by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), are presented to researchers aged 35 and below who have the potential to be world-class researchers in their fields of expertise.