News Release

Duke-NUS appoints Prof Patrick Tan as Senior Vice-Dean for Research

Business Announcement

Duke-NUS Medical School

Duke-NUS Medical School has appointed Professor Patrick Tan to the leadership role of Senior Vice-Dean (Designate) for Research, effective from 1 May 2023. He takes over from Professor Patrick Casey, who is stepping down after having led the School’s research efforts since its inception in 2005. Prof Tan will also assume the role of Senior Scientific Advisor at SingHealth, where he will be pivotal in strengthening the relationship between SingHealth and Duke-NUS in research and innovation, as part of the two organisations’ academic medicine partnership. Both roles will be fully effective from 1 July 2023.

An internationally renowned cancer researcher, Prof Tan has been a faculty member of Duke-NUS’ Cancer & Stem Cell Biology Signature Research Programme since 2006. He leads discovery-driven science on the genomics of cancers prevalent in Asia and has managed the Duke-NUS Genome Biology Facility since 2009.

Prof Tan has collaborated extensively with research groups in Singapore, the ASEAN region and beyond. As Executive Director of the Genome Institute of Singapore at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), he leads large multidisciplinary teams in genomic research. He also plays a key role in implementing Singapore’s national precision medicine strategy as the Executive Director of Precision Health Research Singapore (PRECISE).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Tan took on the role of Programme Director of Operation Stronghold, a partnership with A*STAR, the National University Health System and Temasek Holdings, which was crucial in establishing one of Singapore’s largest COVID testing facilities. For his contributions, he was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) at the 2022 National Day Awards, and the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) (COVID-19) in December 2022.

Among other accolades, Prof Tan led a collaboration that received the American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award in 2018 – the first time an Asian team has won the prestigious award. The team comprised colleagues from Duke-NUS, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Genome Institute of Singapore, as well as collaborators from Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. 

“I feel privileged to develop Duke-NUS’ Signature Research Programmes, which are already making impactful translational discoveries and breakthroughs. Particularly, I look forward to further strengthening collaborative partnerships between the School and our research partners in Singapore’s biomedical landscape, while my new role in SingHealth extends these efforts throughout the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre. I hope to drive new and deeper research and innovation collaborations, as well as to nurture aspiring clinician-scientists and PhD scientists to push the boundaries of medicine through research,” said Prof Tan.

A high-level search committee, chaired by Professor David Virshup, Director of Duke-NUS’ Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Programme, made its recommendation to appoint Prof Tan after an open and competitive global search. The search committee felt that Prof Tan was the ideal person for the role as his knowledge, skills and experience in research were internationally recognised. His vision for research in Duke-NUS was exceptional, realistic and compelling, with new ideas to strengthen partnerships.  

As Senior Vice-Dean for Research at Duke-NUS, Prof Tan will lead the School’s scientific efforts in regional and global strategic areas of importance, as well as identify new opportunities to improve clinical care.

“I am excited to welcome Patrick to the leadership team at Duke-NUS. With his research expertise and exceptional leadership qualities, he is well-positioned to translate his strategic vision for the Office of Research into further scientific breakthroughs. I am confident that he will contribute to impactful research that enhance the practice of medicine in Singapore and beyond,” said Professor Thomas Coffman, Dean of Duke-NUS, on Prof Tan’s appointment.

“I would also like to thank Professor Casey for his dedication, service and contributions to Duke-NUS over the past 18 years. As a founding pioneer of the School, Prof Casey’s strategic insights were invaluable in establishing the Office of Research, and building a team of world-class scientists across our five Signature Research Programmes and ten Centres,” said Prof Coffman on Prof Casey’s legacy.  

Prof Casey is a world-class scientist himself, internationally recognised in the field of cell signalling, and holds a Distinguished James B Duke Professorship at Duke University. Under his leadership, Duke-NUS has grown into a research powerhouse, known for its ground-breaking discoveries and innovations.

Prof Casey has also had a fundamental influence on the Duke-NUS culture, where people of all stripes come together to spark the “next big idea”. For his dedication, service and contributions to Duke-NUS and Singapore’s wider biomedical ecosystem, Prof Casey was recognised with a Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2020.

While Prof Casey will be handing over the reins of the Office of Research, he will remain with the School in a part-time role.

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