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Congratulations to our Presidents Science and Technology Award Winners 2021

The President’s Science and Technology Awards are the highest honours bestowed on exceptional individuals and teams to recognise and celebrate their excellent achievements in science and technology, and their outstanding and invaluable contributions to the research and development landscape in Singapore.

This year, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre is proud to have 2 winners, who received their awards from President Halimah Yacob during a ceremony at the Istana on 10 Dec 2021.



Professor Ivy Ng
Group CEO, SingHealth
Clinical Professor & Governing Board Member, Duke-NUS Medial School

“For her outstanding leadership in the development of academic medicine in Singapore through advancing health and biomedical sciences research and innovation, nurturing clinical research talent, and establishing strategic partnerships among academia, healthcare and industry, to improve health and healthcare delivery.”

Professor Ivy Ng is an accomplished clinician-leader with a strong vision and deep passion for academic medicine. Academic medicine, which encompasses clinical and basic research that is informed by and targets important health problems, is critical for the translation of research discoveries into innovations that improve health and clinical outcomes and contribute to the development of the medical practices of the future. Academic Medical Centres (AMCs) promote an environment which integrates education and research with clinical work, and fosters a culture where clinicians, researchers, educators and staff continually study clinical problems, review data, pursue research and advance innovations that contribute to better care and outcomes.

Prof Ng has played a pivotal role in transforming SingHealth into a thriving AMC since her appointment as its Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) in 2012. This was a very challenging endeavour given the size and complexity of SingHealth, Singapore’s largest public healthcare cluster with four acute care hospitals, five national specialty centres, three community hospitals and a network of polyclinics, with a total staff strength of more than 30,000.

Prof Ng has led SingHealth in restructuring and transforming itself for its academic medicine journey, ensuring that it has the right infrastructure, support and talent to pursue biomedical research, innovation and education. She has been instrumental in driving the advancement of the SingHealth Duke-NUS academic medicine partnership, where she oversaw the formation of 15 Academic Clinical Programmes, 13 SingHealth Duke-NUS Disease Centres, 16 Joint Institutes, and five Academic Colleges – initiatives that integrate research and education with clinical care. These platforms foster the multidisciplinary collaboration among the medical, scientific and education communities that enables care transformation.

Prof Ng places  particular emphasis on talent development as this is key to shaping the future of healthcare. Under her leadership, the research and education talent pool expanded tremendously. As of 31 Dec 2020, SingHealth produced 60 national clinician scientists and around 35 budding clinician scientists, with a multi-fold increase in research productivity and research competitiveness, such as publishing more than three times the number of research papers annually, compared to 10 years ago. She has played a pivotal role in recruiting to Singapore top international scientists to spearhead new research areas, galvanise research across different fields and mentor aspiring local researchers. Under her leadership, SingHealth has played a key role in Residency training nationally, with the cluster delivering almost half of the national healthcare and clinical training.

Prof Ng oversaw the development of the 20-year Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Campus Masterplan. Beyond ensuring that the plan would meet Singapore’s future healthcare needs, Prof Ng and her team also sought  to develop and support a rich ecosystem that interlinks clinical care, education and research. When fully developed, the campus will include dedicated spaces and purpose-built facilities for the full spectrum of research, from basic science to clinical and translational research, as well as catalyse new innovations and technological advancements.

Prof Ng’s own career has successfully spanned clinical medicine, wet bench research, teaching and academic medicine leadership. In her early days as a paediatrician, Prof Ng set out to elucidate the molecular spectrum of thalassaemia. Her research and subsequent founding of the National Thalassaemia Registry in 1992, which registered index cases and facilitated the proactive screening of at-risk individuals, led to accurate genetic counselling and, where appropriate, prenatal diagnosis. This was a game-changer for the early identification of at-risk couples and resulted in a significant drop in the number of babies born with thalassaemia major, as well as better treatment protocols and better outcomes for such patients.

When she took the helm as the CEO of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) in 2004, she oversaw key initiatives such as the introduction of a programme to screen babies for hearing impairment so that young children with the condition can have a chance to lead normal lives. The programme was successful in improving the early diagnosis and clinical intervention of hearing impairment, and in reducing the burden of the disease.

Prof Ng’s exemplary leadership and contributions are guided by what is central to medicine – the patient, and the firm belief in the major benefits that advancements in medicine, made possible by high quality research and education, bring to the patient.


Professor Wang Linfa
Professor, Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Duke-NUS Medical School

"In recognition of his stellar contributions to the field of bat biology and emerging viral diseases, and the successful translation of his discoveries into biomedical innovations that have helped combat several viral outbreaks, including the COVID-19 pandemic"

Professor Wang Linfa is one of the world's foremost experts on emerging bat-borne viruses. Through his body of work, published over several decades, Prof Wang has established bats as a new model system for understanding zoonotic transmission of viral diseases. His breakthrough research and biomedical innovations have informed national responses to multiple major outbreaks and pandemics. 

Bats, the only flying mammals, have a remarkable ability to host viruses without showing any clinical signs of infection. Over the last few decades, the viruses behind major outbreaks the world has seen, including Hendra, SARS, MERS, Marburg, Ebola, and the current COVID-19 pandemic, are suspected to have originated from bats. Understanding what makes bats an ideal reservoir for so many viruses is a major focus of Prof Wang's research.

Originally trained in biochemistry and molecular biology, Prof Wang built his expertise in bat biology and emerging viruses by forging an extensive network of collaborations with virologists, immunologists, bat biologists and infectious disease experts across the globe. His team's surveillance studies of wildlife, livestock and human hosts have been instrumental in identifying bats as major reservoirs of emerging zoonotic viruses. 

Most notably, Prof Wang led the international team of experts which discovered that bats were the reservoir for SARS-CoV-1. More recently, he has shown that bats gained their uncanny ability to co-exist with viruses by adapting their host defense mechanisms over 65 million years of evolutionary history. This new understanding will help to better predict, prevent and control future viral spillovers, and may lead to novel approaches for improving human health.

 Beyond infectious diseases, Prof Wang's bat biology research has implications for other diseases, including cancer, inflammatory diseases and ageing-related complications. Two patents and a novel class of anti-inflammatory drugs that is under development have emerged from his work that unraveled the unique inflammatory responses exhibited by bats.

From being the first in Singapore to culture SARS-CoV-2 from a patient's blood sample to being the first in the world to adopt retrospective serological testing for more effective contact tracing, Prof Wang's team has made significant contributions to Singapore's COVID-19 response. To advance serological testing, he developed a novel surrogate virus neutralisation test that detects SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies with high specificity and sensitivity. Developed and commercialised in collaboration with DxD Hub and GenScript, the test was launched in Singapore in May 2020 under the trade name cPassTM. cPass is currently the only FDA-approved test for detecting SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies and is used in more than 50 countries, impacting vaccination strategies as well as deepening our understanding of long-term immunity. It is further being deployed in an ASEAN-wide serological follow-up study of vaccine efficacy, of which Prof Wang is a lead principal investigator. 

Prof Wang's most recent work focuses on designing a third-generation coronavirus vaccine (3GCoVax) that could combat not only known SARS-CoV-2 variants, but also other coronaviruses that may emerge in the future. Currently under development as a generic booster, 3GCoVax is based on Prof Wang's groundbreaking discovery that SARS-CoV-1 survivors who have been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 produce powerful neutralising antibodies.

As a member of multiple WHO COVID-19 committees, the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Singapore's COVID-19 Research Workgroup, Prof Wang has contributed to policies and roadmaps for identifying emerging zoonotic diseases and preparing national and international agencies to better respond to epidemics and pandemics. He is currently Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School and was recently appointed Executive Director of the recently established National Programme for Research in Epidemic Preparedness and Responses (PREPARE). He has nurtured several young scientists into independent principal investigators and, since joining Duke-NUS eight years ago, trained five MD-PhD students. 

Having published over 450 papers, including many in top journals like Science, Nature, and Lancet, Prof Wang's work earned him more than 36,000 citations and a H-index of 97 (Web of Science 2021). He was also elected to prestigious academic bodies, including the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2010) and the American Academy of Microbiology (2021) in recognition of his exemplary contributions to the field.