BALACHANDRAN-KAJIMA PROFESSORSHIP IN ACADEMIC MEDICINE (2014)
Professor N Balachandran, a medical luminary and pioneer in the field of orthopaedics, was instrumental in developing orthopaedics as a medical specialty in Singapore. A founding father, mentor, teacher and friend to many in the profession, Professor Balachandran graduated from the University of Malaya in 1956.
A firm believer in the transfer of skills, experience and knowledge to younger surgeons so that patients could benefit from better care, Prof Balachandran trained countless orthopaedic surgeons, nurses and other staff. His mantra was: “We must always aim towards excellence and not be selfish. We would have failed in our duties and responsibilities if our younger surgeons who come after us are not better than us.” Later, as President of the Singapore Medical Association, he reminded doctors that, “Success cannot be measured in financial terms only. It must be measured by the sum total of the good we do for the community.”
Prof Balachandran’s strict and firm but fair working style belied his heart of gold. Over his four-and-a-half decade career, his devotion to his patients and dedication to mentoring his students has left an indelible impression on the medical profession. He is best remembered for his compassion and humanity towards his patients. He cared deeply for them, regardless of their social standings, and was very intimately concerned with rehabilitation of the handicapped, the disabled, patients with spinal injuries, congenital deformities and the chronic sick.
The Balachandran -Kajima Professorship in Academic Medicine was established to honour this medical giant. The Professorship aims to nurture academic leadership in medical teaching and research and will allow the distinguished recipient to pursue advanced research that will make a lasting impact on patients’ lives.
Kajima Overseas Asia (KOA), a regional arm of Kajima Corporation, donated generously towards this Professorship. A global design, construction and real estate development giant, KOA was involved in the development of The Academia, an iconic building dedicated to research, education and training on the SGH Campus. The Professorship is also supported by SingHealth Foundation.
BENJAMIN SHEARES PROFESSORSHIP IN ACADEMIC MEDICINE (2011)
In 1930s Singapore, 70 to 80 women in every 10,000 died during childbirth. Neonatal deaths were 700 in 10,000. Against this backdrop, Dr Benjamin Sheares, the father of modern obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore, graduated from King Edward VII College of Medicine (NUS’ predecessor institution) in 1929. Born in 1907 into a humble Eurasian family, the odds were stacked against his achieving his childhood dream of being a doctor. But his passion for medicine coupled with sheer hard work took him to the pinnacle of his profession, and from there to the Presidency of Singapore.
An outstanding surgeon, Dr Sheares pioneered the lower segment Caesarean section in Singapore, which is now the gold standard for deliveries requiring surgery. Over the 25 years he spent at KK Hospital, he pioneered country-wide childcare clinics to improve ante- and post-natal supervision and enabled better training for midwives. By the 1950s, the maternal death rate was down to 7 per 10,000 and neonatal deaths were 4 in 10,000.
Dr Sheares, the first Singaporean to be appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) at the University of Malaya in 1950, taught almost every prominent obstetrician and gynaecologist in the country. His keen interest in clinical research led to safer O&G care. Singapore’s mothers and children are in safe hands today because of him.
The Benjamin Sheares Professorship will build on the expertise of SingHealth and Duke-NUS, set up initiatives within Singapore and overseas to build Duke-NUS’ and Singapore’s reputations as a leading biomedical hub. It will recognise academic leadership in medical teaching and form collaborations with other international centres of excellence. The individual selected will be like Dr Sheares, a role model to students, clinicians and clinician scientists, and he or she will pursue advanced research while serving students, patients and the community.
The Professorship is supported by gifts from Tote Board, SingHealth Foundation and the late Mdm Yeo Seh Geok (Mrs Benjamin Sheares).