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NUS medicine students spend time at top Harvard medical school and hospital

26 May 2011

NUHS-BIDMC COLLABORTION: At the MOU signing in March 2010, (from left) Prof John Wong, NUHS' Deputy Chief Executive and Dean of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine; Prof Mark L Ziedel, BIDMC's Physician-in-Chief; and Mr Joe Sim, Chief Executive Officer of National University Hospital
Ten medical students from NUS' Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLL SOM) were given the opportunity to spend a month at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, and its teaching hospital, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC). Five of the students have completed their stint, while the other five currently in Boston are due back in July.

Said fourth-year medical student Ms Natalie Ngoi who had participated in the programme: "Being surrounded by such a vast pool of profound intellectual talent not only made for an intensely stimulating learning environment, but also made one hungry for more knowledge and excited about the endless possibilities. I felt my view of Medicine broadened, and my passion for the subject deepened."

This initiative is one of many developments resulting from a joint collaboration between the National University Health System (NUHS) and BIDMC on education, research and patient care, established last year. Besides student exchange, other activities in the pipeline include joint research projects and a bi-annual symposium where leading Harvard faculty will teach at NUHS. YLL SOM and NUHS medical faculty will also head to the BIDMC for a special programme to train top medical educators. The first two faculty members to head to Boston in July are Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education at YLL SOM Assoc Prof Lau Tang Ching, who is also Head and Senior Consultant in the Division of Rheumatology, University Medical Cluster at the National University Hospital (NUH); and Assoc Prof Marion Aw from YLL SOM and Senior Consultant at the Department of Paediatrics, University Children’s Medical Institute, NUH.

This is BIDMC's first partnership of its kind outside the US, and the collaboration has received strong support from faculty, students and other stakeholders. Just yesterday, NUHS announced that the Yong Loo Lin Trust had made a gift of S$5 million towards the collaboration, which had been named the Yong Loo Lin NUHS Harvard BIDMC programme, in recognition of the generous donation.

This gift to NUHS follows the earlier S$100 million gift made by the Yong Loo Lin Trust to the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and S$3.5 million to the Yong Loo Lin Professorship in Medical Oncology established in 1996.

Ms Yong Siew Yoon, trustee and spokesperson for the Trust, said: "I am delighted to see the high international standing the medical school and NUHS have achieved. The Trust is pleased that this new gift will enable a collaboration that will take them to new heights."

Said NUS President and NUHS Chairman Prof Tan Chorh Chuan: "We are grateful to the Yong Loo Lin Trust for giving our medical students, faculty and clinicians the opportunity to gain from the experience at Harvard BIDMC. I believe the experience will be a transformative one for all of them."