Honorary citizenship given to American doctor and British A*Star engineer

Professor Victor J. Dzau (left), president of the US-based National Academy of Medicine, and Professor Sir John O'Reilly, British engineer at A*Star, received their awards at the Istana on April 26, 2019.
Professor Victor J. Dzau (left), president of the US-based National Academy of Medicine, and Professor Sir John O'Reilly, British engineer at A*Star, received their awards at the Istana on April 26, 2019. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - An American doctor and a British engineer were made honorary citizens of Singapore - the highest form of recognition for foreigners - on Friday (April 26) for their contributions to post-graduate medical education and engineering research and development.

Professor Victor J. Dzau, president of the US-based National Academy of Medicine, and Professor Sir John O'Reilly, chairman of the Science and Engineering Research Council at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), were conferred the award by President Halimah Yacob in a ceremony at the Istana.

Prof Dzau, 73, played an integral role in bringing post-graduate medical research opportunities to clinicians by establishing the Duke-NUS Medical School in 2005.

To connect the school's research capabilities with the clinical strengths of healthcare institutions, Prof Dzau shaped up the academic medicine partnership between Duke-NUS and SingHealth while he was a board member of SingHealth from 2008 to 2018.

Under his leadership, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre has conducted multiple research on chronic diseases, ageing population trends and models of care that impact individuals in Singapore and the region.

Prof Dzau also helped to develop the country's health and biomedical research bodies and industries, while serving as a member of the Health and Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council.

An expert in cardiology and genetics, he laid the groundwork for the development of drugs known as ACE inhibitors which are used worldwide to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. He also made headway in gene therapy to treat diseases in the blood vessels such as artery disease, stroke and aneurysms.

"I am deeply grateful to receive the Honorary Citizen Award. Being honoured by Singapore is meaningful to me, as it has been a rewarding experience collaborating in various ways over the years with the National University of Singapore, SingHealth, the Ministry of Health and Singapore's leadership," said Prof Dzau.

He added that he will continue to advance Singapore's healthcare, medical education and research.

Prof O'Reilly, 72, set the path for research and development in engineering and physical sciences here by accelerating collaborations between A*Star and British companies such as Rolls-Royce.

He also spearheaded the creation of new research and development programmes as chairman of two Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 funding review panels for the Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering domain.

With his efforts, A*Star's Neuromorphic Computing and Speciality Chemicals programmes were formed.

"I am very honoured and humbled to receive the Honorary Citizen Award. Over the years, I have been fortunate to witness Singapore's transformation into a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise, and I feel grateful to have played a part in shaping the science and engineering research landscape here," said Prof O'Reilly.