Special Message: The best of times

By LKCMedicine former Dean Professor James Best

Many of you have heard me speak of the first time I came to Singapore in 1963, but you may not know that I also came to Singapore on my honeymoon in 1978. While here, I managed to fit in an endocrinology conference, where I presented my first scientific paper! At that time, I never thought that Singapore would one day be my home. But that changed, many years later, when I took up the challenge and opportunity to be LKCMedicine’s first resident Dean in 2014. And yes, we are still married!

Building a new medical school is an incredible task and it has been a superb team effort. The partnership between NTU and Imperial has been highly effective, firstly in delivering with a very short lead-time an innovative MBBS curriculum and then developing a vibrant research programme. Our primary clinical partner, National Healthcare Group (NHG), was critical in ensuring the new medical course was relevant to the Singapore context and in delivering the teaching. NHG has also been an increasingly important research partner, particularly in our collaboration on the development of clinician-scientists.  

As I look back over almost seven years, I am amazed by and very proud of what we have achieved together, including the graduation of our first three cohorts of doctors.  We could not have done this without the commitment and teamwork of the many people who make up the LKCMedicine community, including our outstanding students and alumni. Nothing has proven our spirit and resilience more than the COVID-19 pandemic, with stellar contributions in education and research from our entire team.

In March 2021, the QS World University Rankings listed NTU as equal 89th on its list of the top 100 in Medicine around the world. This is quite remarkable because LKCMedicine has become the youngest medical school in the top 100. I am sure that the high standing of NTU and Imperial contributes to this outcome and I am equally sure that LKCMedicine will enhance the reputation of both its parent universities in the years to come.

The past seven years in Singapore and LKCMedicine have been a wonderful life and academic experience. I am most fortunate to have worked with so many outstanding individuals in our faculty and staff, to whom I express my deep gratitude for their excellent work. I am particularly grateful to the Vice-Deans and COOs with whom I have worked over this time, for their support and commitment. I do want to make special mention of Professor Lionel Lee, who, as Executive Vice-Dean, ‘showed me the ropes' as I started on my work journey here in Singapore.

I have also benefitted greatly from the guidance and encouragement of many senior colleagues. I would like to acknowledge LKCMedicine Governing Board (GB) chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh and other members of the GB, past and present, who have been extraordinarily helpful in their wise counsel and steadfast support for the School.

I am also especially appreciative of the support for the School and for me personally from NTU President Distinguished University Professor Subra Suresh and Imperial President Professor Alice Gast.

Former NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson was instrumental in my appointment and a driving force behind the establishment of the School. Former Imperial Dean of Medicine and LKCMedicine Dean Professor Dermot Kelleher has been a great friend and advisor, as has current Imperial Dean of Medicine Jonathan Weber. I have also benefited greatly from the friendship and support of Imperial’s Professor Desmond Johnston, as has the School.  NHG Group CEO Professor Philip Choo and many other NHG colleagues have also contributed much to the School’s success. It has been a great privilege to work with many outstanding colleagues from NTU, Imperial, NHG and elsewhere.

As I approach the end of my time at LKCMedicine, I am delighted that we have attracted such an outstanding academic leader as Professor Joseph Sung, to assume the role of LKCMedicine Dean for the next phase of its history. Once again, thank you everyone for your wonderful support and encouragement all these years. All the best, LKCMedicine!