Faculty of Science

Department of Pharmacy

Message from the Head of Department

As we usher in 2016 with new and/or recycled resolutions, we look back at the year that was and look forward to the year ahead. The Department of Pharmacy has indeed achieved much in the past year under the stewardship of A/P Chui Wai Keung. In terms of the world QS university rankings by subject for 2015, Pharmacy and Pharmacology at NUS was ranked 16th in the world and second in Asia, after University of Tokyo. The year 2015 marks 110 years of pharmacy education in Singapore! To celebrate this achievement, a Pharmacy 110th Anniversary Bursary Endowed Fund has been established to provide financial assistance to needy students. A 110th Anniversary Dinner was also held, much to the enjoyment of staff, students and alumni! On the education front, we have successfully implemented the new curriculum in AY13/14, and the old curriculum will be completely phased out by AY16/17. The new curriculum is a significant milestone for Pharmacy Education and the profession as it is integrative in design and incorporates relevant pharmaceutical scientific knowledge as well as teach skills for clinical pharmacy and practice. In 2015, the Ministry of Health appointed the Department of Pharmacy to coordinate pharmacy residency training in Singapore, which has led to the establishment of the Office of Residency Training. The year that was also saw the Department celebrating the promotions of four of our Assistant Professors to Associate Professors; they are A/Ps Rachel Ee, Ho Han Kiat, Chew Eng Hui, Gigi Chiu – heartiest congratulations from us all!
2016 has begun with significant changes in the leadership of the Department. As A/P Chui has completed his term as Head of Department on the 31st Dec 2015, I have stepped down from my position as Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Science to be the new Head of Department. Yes, this is a challenging position which will no doubt cost me many sleepless nights! However, I have assembled a young and enthusiastic team comprising of A/Ps Giorgia Pastorin, as Deputy Head for Research; Ho Han Kiat, as Deputy Head for Education; Alexandre Chan, as Deputy Head for Clinical and Practice; Gigi Chiu as Assistant Head for Operations and Special Duties. We are also fortunate to be supported by four Domain Leaders, i.e. A/Ps Chui Wai Keung for Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Rachel Ee for Pharmaceutical Technology; Chew Eng Hui for Pharmaceutical Biology and Pharmacokinetics and Joyce Lee for Clinical and Practice. The new team has already defined priorities for the coming year which can be summarised with one phrase - ‘educational and research excellence’.  
Our Department is well-known for its dedication and excellence in teaching. Not one to rest on our laurels, we will continue to strive to improve on learning outcomes using a combination of pedagogical methods so as to achieve the goal of ensuring that our students are able to ‘’learn how to learn’’ and become the thinkers and problem solvers of the future. This is critical to producing the best practitioners as well as researchers.
In the context of research, 2016 heralds the start of the national Research Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020. This is a 5-year national research plan and RIE 2020 will focus on greater collaboration and integration of effort across research performers as well as creating and capturing value for the society. To a certain extent, this means that we must be ready to embrace the challenges that will face us – i.e. attainment of research excellence will require flexibility, creativity and a collaborative spirit. Healthcare will remain a national priority. In this regard, we will have opportunities to impact society through both research and practice. Many of those who have chosen pharmacy as a profession also regard pharmacy as a vocation – there is a strong sense of giving back to society through helping and educating people.
So here we are, at a crossroad of sorts. The saying ‘May you live in interesting times’ is purported to be a Chinese Curse! Nevertheless, we do live in interesting times and I for one, embrace the challenges that is ahead. After all, life is to be lived and nothing teaches more than life itself. On that note, Happy 2016!

Best wishes,
Christina Chai