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Patrick Tan

Patrick Tan

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Published by Ravi Philemon

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: Ravi Philemon on Jul 29, 2011
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03/05/2012

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STATEMENTBYPATRICKTAN–29July2011
-Whatisyourresponsetoonlinecommentsthatsuggestthatyoumayhavereceived preferentialtreatment?
Answer:IamproudtohaveservedSingaporeduringmyNationalService.ItisdeeplyupsettingtomethatrumourshavebeencirculatingthatimpugnmyintegrityandtheinstitutionofNationalService.AftercompletingmyA-levelsin1987,IjoinedmycohortenteringNationalServicein1988.AftercompletingBasicMilitaryTrainingandOfficerCadetSchool(JuniorTerm),IwasawardedaPresident’sScholarshipandaLokeChengKimScholarshiptostudymedicineintheUnitedStates,wheremedicaltrainingtypicallycomprisesofapre-medicaldegreefollowedbyagraduatemedicaldegree.ThisisalongerprocessthaninSingaporeortheUK,butIchoseitbecauseIbelieveditwasthebesttrainingforamedicalscientist.ImademycasetotheMinistryofDefenceandwasgrantedpermissiontopursuethiscourseofstudy.IattendedHarvardUniversity(late1988-1992)forpre-medicalstudiesandmovedondirectlywithoutinterruptiontoStanfordUniversity,whereIcompletedanMD-PhDdegreeunderthehighly-selectiveMedicalScientistTrainingProgram(MSTP).Duringmystudies,IalsoacquiredexperienceinDNAmicroarraytechnology.ThesciencebehindthisrevolutionaryscientifictoolbyStanfordscientistsDrsPatrickBrownandRonDaviswasdevelopedin1995.Withitsapplicabilityprovenin1997,microarraytechnologywasonlyavailableatafewcentersworldwide.IgraduatedwiththeCharlesYanofskyAwardforMostOutstandingGraduateThesisinBiologyorChemistry.AftergraduatingfromStanford,IreturnedtoSingaporein2000readytocompletemyNationalServiceinwhateverpostIwasassigned.IknewthatIhadthisobligationtocomplete.MyfatherhadsincebecomeMinisterofDefence,butifanythingthatmadeitallthemoreimportanttocarryoutmyduty.Atthattime,melioidosis(alsoknownas“soildisease”)wasaseriousconcerntoMINDEFasithadbeenaffectingsoldiersinthefieldandisapotentialbio-terrorismthreat(seebelowformoredetails).IwasattachedtowhatisnowtheDefenceMedicalandEnvironmentalResearchInstitute(DMERI,thencalledDMRI)toresearchBurkholderiapseudomallei,thebacteriumthatcausesmelioidosis.ThisresearchinvolvedanorganismcalledC.elegans,whichhadbeenthesubjectofmyPhDthesis.IalsoledateamtoestablishoneofthefirstDNAmicroarrayfacilitiesinSingapore,allowingustoanalyzemelioidosisgeneticvariationwithunprecedentedspeed,resolution,andscale.Asaresultofthiswork,DMERIandSingaporeisnowregardedasamajorglobalcenterofmelioidosisresearch,whichhasfacilitatedinteractionswithnumerousinternationaluniversitiesanddefenceinstitutes.OurDMERIresearchteampublishedpeer-reviewedpapersinestablishedscientificjournals(seereferencesbelow).
 
ThroughoutmyNationalService,IreceivedanNSman'ssalaryandfulfilledallrequirementsofNSincludingIPPTandsubsequentreservistobligationssuchasin-camptrainingattherankof3rdSergeant.Thecurrentallegations—mostlypostedanonymouslyontheInternet—arefalse.Itseemsclearthatsuchrumoursareintendedtohurtmyfather,whichmakesitallthemorepainfulforme.Iamproudtohaveservedmycountry,andIamproudofallthatmyfatherhasdoneforSingaporealso.
References
GanYH,ChuaKL,ChuaHH,LiuB,HiiCS,ChongHL,TanP.(2002)CharacterizationofBurkholderiapseudomalleiinfectionandidentificationofnovelvirulencefactorsusingaCaenorhabditiseleganshostsystem.MolecularMicrobiology44(5):1185-97Patternsoflarge-scalegenomicvariationinvirulentandavirulentBurkholderiaspecies(2004)OngC,OoiCH,WangD,ChongH,NgKC,RodriguesF,LeeMA,TanP.GenomeResearch14(11):2295-307.
-Couldyoutellusmoreaboutmeliodosis,whichyouresearchedduringyourterminDMRI?Whydidyouchoosethatareaofstudyandwhywasitsoimportantthen?
Answer:Melioidosisisaserious,oftenfatalinfectiousdiseaseofhumanandanimalscausedbythebacteriumBurkholderiapseuodmallei(Bp).BpisfoundinSouthEastAsiansoilsincludingSingapore,andBphasalsobeenofficiallydesignatedapotentialbiowarfareagentbytheUSCentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention(CDC),similartoanthrax.InSingapore,meliodosiscasesarenotuncommon,andina2004outbreak15peoplediedfromthedisease.WithintheSAF,meliodosishasalsooccurredinotherwisehealthyNationalServicemen,insomecasesresultingindeath.Forthesereasons,aresearchprogramwasinitiatedbyDMRIinthe1990stostudyBpandhowitcausesmelioidosis.WhenIstartedmyNationalServicestintin2000,IwasinstructedtoapplytheknowledgeIhadobtainedinmyMDPhDtostudymelioidosis.WorkingwithothercolleaguesfromDMRIandNUS,weperformedresearchtoidentifyimportantgenesusedbyBptocausedisease,usingthesoilnematodeCaenorhabditiselegansasamodelhost(Ganetal.,2002MolecularMicrobiology).WealsoappliedthelatestgenomictechnologiesatthattimesuchasmicroarraystostudygeneticdifferencesbetweendifferentisolatesofBp,anddiscoveredasurprisingamountofmolecularvariation(Ongetal.,2004GenomeResearch).
-Couldyoualsotelluswhatsortofresearchyoudothesedays?Specificallywhatareyouworkingonnow?
Answer:Iamstillextensivelyinvolvedingenomicsandbiomedicalresearch.AsafacultymemberintheDuke-NUSGraduateMedicalSchoolandCancerSciencesInstituteofSingapore,wehaveanextensivetranslationalresearchprograminstomachcancer,workingwithbothbasicscientistsandclinicians.IalsohaveanappointmentwiththeGenomeInstituteofSingapore,wherewecontinueourresearchonmelioidosisincollaborationwithDMERI(formallycalledDMRI).

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