British scientist and Swiss insurance executive receive national honours

Sir David Lane (second from left) and Mr Walter Kielholz (second from right) were conferred the Honorary Citizen Awards by President Halimah Yacob. With them are Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan.

SINGAPORE - A British scientist and a Swiss business executive were conferred national honours on Thursday (Aug 25) for their contributions to Singapore.

Sir David Lane, who is honorary senior fellow at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and Mr Walter Kielholz, the honorary chairman of Swiss Re, received the Honorary Citizen Awards from President Halimah Yacob at the Istana.

The award is the highest form of recognition for foreigners and is conferred for life on those who have made outstanding contributions to Singapore's growth and development.

Professor Lane, 70, held leadership appointments at A*Star's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology and was responsible for setting up what would now be known as the Experimental Drug Development Centre, which paved the way for drug discovery and development here.

He played a key role in attracting industry investments and scientific talents, and in 2009 was appointed A*Star's chief scientist.

He was also instrumental in the discovery of the p53 cancer gene in 1979, and was knighted in 2000 for his contributions to cancer research.

His expertise in the field would see him set up and head A*Star's p53 Laboratory, one of the leading labs globally that specialise in the gene.

Meanwhile, Mr Kielholz, 71, has been one of the longest serving members on the International Advisory Panel of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) - from 2009 to 2021.

The panel advises the MAS on financial strategies, and Mr Kielholz contributed insights that enhanced the competitive edge of Singapore's financial sector.

When he was chairman of Swiss Re, he backed the expansion of the company's presence in Singapore, and in 2018, the reinsurance firm set up its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters here.

Under his leadership, Swiss Re also supported several industry initiatives here. These included co-developing and applying methodology for assessing fairness in insurance predictive underwriting by using artificial intelligence and data analytics, as part of the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

Both men said they were honoured to receive the awards.

"I deeply appreciate the opportunity to have contributed towards Singapore's growth in the biomedical sciences," said Prof Lane.

He noted that the city state has become a vibrant hub for science and innovation, with a strong pool of home-grown scientific talent.

Mr Kielholz said he was thankful for the opportunity to have been part of Singapore's journey to becoming a global financial hub.

"My first visit to Singapore was in 1976," he recalled.

"Over the years, I have witnessed Singapore's transformation into the leading global financial and fintech hub it is today, becoming a model for other countries to emulate."

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