Singapore has honoured Professor Victor J. Dzau, President of the United States’ National Academy of Medicine, and Professor Sir John O’Reilly, Chairman of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) at The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), with the Honorary Citizen Award for their valuable contributions to Singapore. President Halimah Yacob conferred the Award on Professor Dzau and Sir John at a ceremony held at the Istana today.

The Award is the highest form of recognition bestowed by the Singapore Government for outstanding contributions by individuals to the country’s growth and development. It is conferred on those who have made a significant impact in the areas of business, science and technology, information communications, education, health, arts and culture, sports, tourism, community services or security. Please refer to Annex A for more information on the Honorary Citizen Award, and Annex B for the biographies of the awardees.

Professor Victor J. Dzau

Professor Victor J. Dzau is the President of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in the United States. He was the President and CEO of the Duke University Health System in the United States, and has served on the Governing Board of the Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School (now known as Duke-NUS Medical School) and the Board of Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd.

He was instrumental in establishing Duke-NUS Medical School, the only graduate medical school in Singapore which provides post-graduate opportunities for those who are keen to pursue a medical research career. As the then-President and CEO of the Duke University Health System, he actively collaborated with NUS to establish the school in 2005. He later served as Duke’s senior representative on the Duke-NUS Medical School Governing Board, contributing to the strategic direction and oversight on the development and management of the School to advance its objectives in medical education and research.

As a Board Member of SingHealth from 2008 to 2018, Prof Dzau played a key role in shaping the academic medicine partnership between SingHealth and Duke-NUS, to build on the collective clinical strengths of SingHealth healthcare institutions and Duke-NUS’ research and education capabilities. Under his leadership, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre has actively undertaken research studies on healthcare diseases and models of care that impact the population locally and in the region.

Professor Dzau also serves as a Member of the Health and Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council (HBMS IAC) since 2014. Through the HBMS IAC, he has also lent his expertise in guiding the strategic development of Singapore’s health and biomedical sciences research and industry sectors.

Professor Dzau said, “I am deeply grateful to receive the Honorary Citizen Award and join the ranks of the esteemed previous recipients. Being honoured by Singapore is particularly meaningful to me, as it has been a truly rewarding experience collaborating in various ways over the years with NUS, SingHealth, the Ministry of Health and Singapore’s leadership. I would like to express my gratitude for their friendship. I will continue to work with my partners to advance healthcare, education and research in Singapore.”

Professor Sir John O’Reilly

Professor Sir John O’Reilly is the Chairman of A*STAR’s Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), where he has played an invaluable role in charting the strategic direction for R&D in Singapore, particularly in the engineering and physical sciences domains. Sir John has also been instrumental in fostering close links and R&D collaborations between Singapore (A*STAR) and British companies (such as Rolls-Royce) and universities (such as Warwick University).

As Chair of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 review panels for the Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering (AME) domain’s Industry Alignment Fund – Prepositioning (IAF-PP) and Programmatic funding, Sir John spearheaded the creation of new R&D programmes to keep Singapore at the forefront of science and technology innovation trends. These new programmes include A*STAR’s Neuromorphic Computing and Specialty Chemicals programmes. To date, the former has developed a neuromorphic processor for next-generation computing devices, while the latter has anchored an Application Development Centre by German specialty chemicals giant Evonik, focused on additive manufacturing and functional services.

Sir John has also contributed towards growing Singapore’s R&D talent pipeline. Serving on the A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA) International Advisory Panel from 2009 to 2013, Sir John provided strategic counsel to A*GA on its scholarship programmes and helped to expand its international network. Since 2014, Sir John has also been a member of MOE’s Quality Assurance Framework for Universities (QAFU) external review panel, helping to ensure that Singapore’s universities remain globally competitive. He was involved in the review of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in 2015, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in 2017, and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in 2019, where he shared best practices in university education from around the globe that local universities could learn from.

Sir John has also raised international awareness of Singapore’s scientific talent. Since 2011, he has chaired the prestigious A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize Committee, under the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The Committee shortlists candidates globally for the annual A F Harvey Prize, given for the furtherance of scientific research in medical, microwave, laser or radar engineering. Under his stewardship, young Singapore-based scientists such as A*STAR’s Dr Arseniy Kuznetsov have been recognised. Dr Kuznetsov was awarded the prize in 2016 for his groundbreaking work in lasers, optoelectronics and nanophotonics.

Professor Sir John O’Reilly said, “I am very honoured and humbled to receive the Honorary Citizen Award. Over the years, I have been very fortunate indeed to witness first-hand Singapore’s transformation into a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation, and enterprise, and I feel grateful to have played a part in shaping the science and engineering research landscape here. I thank the Singapore Government for giving me the opportunity to contribute.”


Annex A

Honorary Citizen Award

The title of Honorary Citizen is a national award conferred by the Singapore Government since 2003 to recognise and acknowledge the contributions of foreigners who have rendered extensive and valuable services to Singapore and its people, or who have made a significant impact in the areas of business, science and technology, information communications, education, health, arts and culture, sports, tourism and community services or security.

The Honorary Citizen Award is the highest form of national recognition for a non-Singaporean and ranks ahead of existing awards – the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) Award and the Public Service Medal (Friends of Singapore) Award.

The title of Honorary Citizen is conferred for life.

Past Honorary Citizen Award Recipients


Dr Sydney Brenner (United Kingdom) Chairman, Biomedical Research Council, A*STAR (2003 – 2007) Scientific Advisor to Chairman A*STAR (2007 – 2010) Senior Fellow, A*STAR (2010 – 2019)

Dr Pasquale Pistorio (Italy) President & Chief Executive, STMicroelectronics (1987 – 2005)


Sir Richard Brook Sykes (United Kingdom) Chairman, GlaxoSmith Kline PLC (2000-2002)

Mr. Lodewijk Christiaan Van Wachem (The Netherlands) Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (Shell) (1992-2002)


Dr Tsutomu Kanai (Japan) Chairman of the Board & Director of Hitachi Ltd (1999 – 2011)

Professor Robert A Brown (United States of America) Provost, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1998-2005)


Mr Lee R. Raymond (United States of America) Chairman and CEO, ExxonMobil (1999-2006)

Dr Heinrich von Peirer (Germany) Chairman, Supervisory Board of Siemens AG (2005 – 2007)


Mr Ratan Tata (India) Chairman, Tata Group (1991 – 2012)

Tan Sri Frank Tsao Wen-King (Malaysia) Senior Chairman, IMC Group (2011 – Present) Chairman, Suntec City Development (2011 – Present)


Mr Jeroen van der Veer (The Netherlands) Chief Executive, Royal Dutch Shell (2004 – 2009) Vice-Chairman, Supervisory Board of ING (2009 – 2011)


Professor Edward Holmes (United States of America) Deputy Chairman, Translational and Clinical Science Group, Biomedical Research Council, A*STAR (2006 – 2014) Executive Chairman of the National Medical Research Council, MOH (2006 – 2011)


Lord Ronald Oxburgh (United Kingdom) Co-chairman of A*STAR Science & Technology Advisory Committee (2011 – 2013) Deputy Chairman, Board of the A*STAR Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) (2002 – 2013)


Mr Hiromasa Yonekura (Japan) Chairman, Sumitomo Chemical (2009 – 2014) Member, International Advisory Council, A*STAR (2009 – 2017)


Professor Sir George Radda (United Kingdom) Chairman, Biomedical Research Council, A*STAR (2009 – 2017)

Dr Joan Bray Rose (United States of America) Homer Knowlin Chair, Water Research, Michigan State University (2003 – Present) Chairperson, External Audit Panel, PUB (2002 – Present)


Dr Tadataka Yamada (United States of America) Executive Vice President of Takeda Pharmaceuticals (2011 – Present) Member, A*STAR Investigatorship Selection Panel (2013 – 2016)


Prof Ulrich Werner Suter (Switzerland) Advisor, National Research Foundation (2012 – Present) Chairman, NRF Competitive Research Programme International Evaluation Panel (2011 – Present) Member, NRF Scientific Advisory Board (2011 – Present)

Sir Andrew Philip Witty (United Kingdom) VP and GM of Marketing for Glaxo Wellcome Inc. (1999 – 2003) Member, EDB’s International Advisory Council


Annex B: Biography of Honorary Citizen Award 2019 Recipients