A*Star professor given honorary citizenship for contributions in science, tech, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

A*Star professor given honorary citizenship for contributions in science, tech

An American professor who contributed to Singapore’s science and technology sectors was awarded honorary citizenship here on Monday.

Professor William Chin, 75, co-chair of the Experimental Drug Development Centre governing board at the Agency for Science, Technology And Research (A*Star), was conferred the award by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam in a ceremony held at the Istana.

He is also a Bertarelli Professor of Translational Medical Science and Medicine Emeritus at Harvard Medical School.

The honorary citizen award is the highest form of recognition given out by the Singapore Government for outstanding contributions made by a non-Singaporean to the country’s growth and development.

It gives recipients and their dependants the right to live and work in Singapore. The award was first given out in 2003.

Prof Chin, who first came to Singapore in the 1980s as a consultant for the National University of Singapore’s medicine school, joined the A*Star board in 2011.

His areas of contribution over the years include biotherapeutics research, as well as efforts to drive collaborative projects involving biomedical research that helps to nurture local scientists.

In a statement on Monday, A*Star said Prof Chin was instrumental in advising A*Star and Singapore’s research, innovation and enterprise ecosystem on health and biomedical sciences initiatives.

Before he was appointed as an A*Star board member, he held various positions on A*Star Biomedical Research Council project review panels and strategy groups, where he reviewed key projects in skin research, human development and non-communicable diseases.

Among the proposals reviewed was the establishment of a drug discovery and development unit to support drug development processes from pre-clinical to clinical stages in Singapore.

This unit is now part of the Experimental Drug Development Centre, whose board Prof Chin co-chairs.

A*Star said that under his stewardship, the centre has continued to progress its portfolio of drug discovery and development projects and generated value through creating and supporting biotech start-ups and licensing technologies to pharmaceutical companies.

A*Star chief executive Frederick Chew said Singapore’s research and development ecosystem had benefitted tremendously from Prof Chin’s counsel, networks and leadership.

On receiving the award, Prof Chin said: “I am truly grateful for the true privilege to help Singapore over the years and humbled by this wonderful honour.”

He added that he was very proud to have witnessed the continued growth of Singapore’s biomedical research system.

“In the past decade, Singapore has punched well above its weight as a small nation and created important scientific impact for the world,” he added.

When asked why he came to Singapore initially, he said he had been drawn by the “indomitable spirit and passionate leadership” of Singapore to excel in biomedical science, with the goal of improving the health of its citizens and others.

He added that when he began working in Singapore nearly 40 years ago, there was a simple dream to strive for excellence in science, medicine and healthcare – a “good but not certain plan”.

“Fast forward to today, Singapore has achieved a miracle in a relatively short time by any standard. It is now a world leader thanks to its patience, consistent support, devotion to developing local and selective recruitment of external talent, and singular focus on value-creation.”