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​LKCMedicine Heritage Centre continues rich healthcare legacy, makes history

Published on: 16-May-2018

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On the evening of 16 May, LKCMedicine opened the Heritage Centre in the School's headquarters (HQ) building. The occasion was hosted by LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best, and graced by LKCMedicine Governing Board Chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh with other members of the Board, NTU President and Distinguished University Professor Subra Suresh, invited guests, faculty and staff.

Although LKCMedicine is a young medical school at just five years old, yet it rests on the shoulders of giants that came before. The School is the culmination of a healthcare, medical education and research legacy, of both its parent universities NTU Singapore and Imperial College London, as well as its primary teaching hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). The LKCMedicine HQ itself was built as the Straits Settlements Mandalay Road Hostel in 1923, housing medical students from Edward VII College of Medicine. Post-WWII, it was used as a nurses' hostel before housing TTSH's Administrative and Human Resource office.

Prof Suresh kicked off the evening saying: "First and foremost, congratulations on a remarkable journey over a very short five years, the milestone of graduating 52 new doctors into the Singapore medical enterprise. Second note on creating this Heritage Centre not only to showcase the rich heritage. Third, the opportunity for a new medical school to archive all the important things so 50, 100 years down the road, that all this become the part and parcel of the fabric of this institution. I think history is made not by discrete jumps but everyday by students and faculty. LKCMedicine will be around 500 years from now, and the history will be much richer. I'm delighted to be part of the NTU family and of the LKCMedicine family."

Mr Lim then addressed the audience, evoking the history of the HQ building where the Centre resides. He said, "These walls have witnessed many stories and decisions that have enriched the history of medicine and healthcare in Singapore. Our stories do not start with the School but if there is something we have done right from the beginning of LKCMedicine, it is the meticulous effort put in to record the key moments of how the School came about, how we developed the vision to guide our journey, the milestones and goals we sought to achieve at each stage, which the Heritage Centre seeks to capture."

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With a snip of the scissors cutting the ribbon, Mr Lim, Prof Suresh, Prof Best and representing Imperial, the College's Faculty of Medicine Vice-Dean (Education) Professor Desmond Johnston declared the Centre open. LKCMedicine Executive Vice-Dean Professor Lionel Lee proceeded to guide the invited guests through the exhibits.

The Heritage Centre begins with a timeline wall installation from the entrance, starting from the year 1923 when the Mandalay Road students' hostel was built, and charting the milestones since then, ending with the year 2018 when the first class of LKCMedicine graduated to become doctors. Visitors will be able to see original bricks from the building's hostel days, old photographs, as well as listen in at the audio booth to what pioneer leaders, faculty, corporate staff and students have to say. There is also counter space given over to LKCMedicine memorabilia.

What dominates the Heritage Centre though is the imposing time capsule created on 28 August 2017 and sealed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean – when he officially opened the School – containing 30 items such as an SMS meeting notification from MOE regarding setting up a medical school, Collaboration Agreement between NTU and Imperial, the Letter of Donation from the Lee Foundation, key publications including the book documenting the first governing board advance, as well as an iPad and Team-based Learning flashcards, key learning tools used in the LKCMedicine MBBS programme and hallmarks of the teaching approach at this innovatice medical school. Placed in the heart of the Centre, it is due to be opened only in 2060. By then, the School would have achieved quite a few more milestones, and for those who were not part of its heady first years would find the collection within very significant indeed.

After the tour of the Heritage Centre, guests at the opening proceeded on to the commemorative exhibition on the ground floor of CSB titled Tuberculosis: The Never-ending Battle. A collaboration between NTU Museum and LKCMedicine, this exhibition's topic is one that's close not only to Singapore's history, but also the School's primary teaching hospital TTSH, and the patron of the School, Tan Sri Dato Lee Kong Chian. Research is currently being undertaken by LKCMedicine Associate Professor of Infectious Disease Kevin Pethe and his team to find a way to counter multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Prof Best formally opened the exhibition with the following words: "This is the first exhibition to be held with the opening of the Heritage Centre. The reason tuberculosis is the chosen topic is because there are strong links with our primary teaching hospital Tan Tock Seng Hospital, there are strong links with our namesake Lee Kong Chian and there are strong links with Singapore's history. Although the incidences of TB has dropped dramatically, it is far from eradicated in Singapore, and certainly not in the world. LKCMedicine is playing its part in working with Singapore to End TB as part of WHO's Goals."

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