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Famed professor isolated flu virus; promoted arts and chess

Professor Lim Kok Ann (left) pitted against more than 20 schoolboys in a chess game at the Tanjong Katong Technical School. Last in a series of displays for junior members of the Singapore Chess Olympiad, it was to raise funds to send a team to the n
Professor Lim Kok Ann (left) pitted against more than 20 schoolboys in a chess game at the Tanjong Katong Technical School. Last in a series of displays for junior members of the Singapore Chess Olympiad, it was to raise funds to send a team to the next Olympics.PHOTO: ST FILE PHOTO

Professor Lim Kok Ann, an expert in microbiology, was appointed dean of the medical faculty at the then University of Singapore this week in 1965.

A grandson of Singapore pioneer and philanthropist Lim Boon Keng, he gained worldwide fame in 1957 when he isolated the flu virus during the Asian influenza epidemic.

A lover of the arts, Prof Lim founded Centre '65, a multiracial arts group which held talks and staged plays, such as adaptations of Singapore writer Goh Poh Seng's works.

He was also an active champion of chess, and helped make the game popular here.

He won Singapore's first national chess championship in 1949 and set up the Singapore Chess Federation, which he led for 18 years. From 1982 to 1988, he was secretary-general of Fide, the World Chess Federation.

Prof Lim had five children, including writer and playwright Stella Kon, and died in 2003 aged 83.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'Famed professor isolated flu virus; promoted arts and chess'. Print Edition | Subscribe