Art and Science of Medicine Festival: Taking the medical school to the heartlands for the first time!
On 18 March, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) took the medical school to the heartlands for the first time with the inaugural Art and Science of Medicine Festival 2023.
Held at the bustling HDB Hub in the heart of central Singapore, the lively full-day event attracted over 5,000 visitors who experienced first-hand what goes on in our labs and classrooms for the training of tomorrow’s doctors and the search for better treatments. Centred around the theme of ‘Healthy Ageing’, the public also picked up tips on healthy ageing for ‘a healthier you in your later years’.
Filling the event space with melodious music, Year 2 student Loh Pei Yi kicked off the event with a delightful piano performance.
At the opening, LKCMedicine Dean Prof Joseph Sung warmly welcomed the visitors and thanked them for spending their Saturday at the Festival. In his welcome speech, he explained that the event was held at Toa Payoh because “we want the medical school to be among the people that we are serving.”
“We want to bring our education and our research to where you live. Today, we have demonstrations of various kinds of research. We want you to have hands-on experience with some of the medical activities as well as our research. We also want to introduce our medical school and MBBS programme.”
Guest-of-Honour Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence and Adviser to Bishan-Toa Payoh Grassroots Organisations, said, “I am glad that they have chosen Toa Payoh for their first Art and Science of Medicine Festival because Toa Payoh Hub is the centre of Singapore.”
Dr Ng shared that there were two reasons for doing so – “to add years to your life and add life to your years”.
“Very few of us are going to be able to avoid having a chronic disease. For the next lap, it’s not about having no disease, it’s about living with chronic disease. I hope you will go round the booths and you will learn about this. It’s very important for you, especially for Toa Payoh, because we are an aged town, we have more older people than the national average.”
Following his address, Dr Ng officially launched the Festival together with Prof Sung and visited the booths together with Senior Grassroots Leaders from Toa Payoh Central Grassroots Organisations. He took part in various hands-on activities at the digital learning in medical education booth including a VR showcase of a “walking on a plank” and collecting items in a busy clinic as a healthcare professional. He also spoke with LKCMedicine faculty and researchers at the booths featuring ageing simulation, organiods, dementia awareness, microbes and the SG100K population health study.
At the art exhibition, Dr Ng interacted with LKCMedicine Assistant Dean for Clinical Communication Dr Tanya Tierney and students who introduced the artworks on display that were created as part of the Medical Humanities course conducted in the first two years of the School’s MBBS programme. To thank Dr Ng for gracing the event, Prof Sung personally wrote Chinese calligraphy on one of the artworks and presented it to him as a token of appreciation.
Dr Ng then returned to the stage to kickstart a dialogue titled “Towards Healthy Ageing – Role of Tomorrow’s Doctors” where he shared that he spent his first 20 years as a doctor and the last 20 years with the community’s point of view. The panel comprising our alumnus Dr Simon Ong, President of the LKCMedicine Students' Medical Society (LKCMedSoc) Ernest Ong and students Purjita Kiruparan and Hafez Sorouri Zanjani, moderated by LKCMedicine Lead for Continuing & Community Care Associate Professor Wong Teck Yee.
Throughout the day, visitors enjoyed plenty of hands-on activities across 14 research and education booths manned by passionate LKCMedicine students, faculty and staff, alongside our partners in the National Healthcare Group.
The vibrant research booths brought visitors up close to the School’s transformative research across its flagship research programmes and cross-cutting themes including microbes around us, nutrition, microbes & health, transforming health in Singapore with SG100K, skin health research, data science and artificial intelligence (AI), dementia awareness, organoids and nanofiber scaffold wound dressing.
At the “Microbes and Man” booth, the research team engaged interested members of the public to participate in the citizen science project “Project Urban Microbes in Asia (PUMA)” where they get to collect environmental samples. These samples will be analysed for the presence of clinically relevant microbes and antimicrobial resistance genes. Another feature booth highlighted organoids – mini versions of organs grown from stem cells – that are paving the way for the future of medicine.
Over at the education booths, visitors gained insights into what goes on in our classrooms for the training of the doctors of tomorrow and future medicine. Offering hands-on experiences, visitors had the opportunity to try their hand at ultrasound, ageing simulation, digital learning in medical education and simulation in medical training, and learn about human anatomy and elderly fitness with a focus on respiratory health.
One of the key highlights was an art exhibition that featured more than 50 works by LKCMedicine students, researchers, and Tan Tock Seng Hospital clinicians, telling stories of their passion and compassion, sacrifices, hope, aspirations, and above all, humility and gratitude for the opportunity to serve and deliver care, or to search for the next medical breakthrough.
In line with the theme of ‘Healthy Ageing’, the LKCMedSoc organised health screenings for the public in the morning, followed by health education workshops for the elderly in the afternoon. The well-received workshops covered mindfulness & self-care, screening for your health, chatbots session conducted by Assistant Professor Lorainne Tudor Car’s team and collaborators, and tackling diabetes, conducted in both English and Mandarin by Associate Professors Yusuf Ali and Sunny Wong.
LKCMedicine staff and students were also on hand to answer queries on the MBBS programme, student admissions and research and to share more information about the School.
Wrapping up the vibrant Festival on a high, LKCMedicine Senior Assistant Director of Digital Learning Sally Loan-Ng led the crowd in a rousing Zumba workout which was met with much enthusiasm.