Founded in 1905, the Faculty of Medicine (now renamed the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) was the first institution of tertiary education in Singapore and still the largest medical school in Singapore, responsible for producing the majority of Singapore’s doctors. In 2005, the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies was founded under the umbrella of the Faculty of Medicine, producing Singapore’s first local university degree nursing graduates. The Faculty of Dentistry, founded in 1929, is the only dental school in Singapore, and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, founded in 2011 but tracing its roots back to 1948 as a Department, is the only public health school in Singapore.
The National University Hospital (NUH), a 1230-bed tertiary specialty hospital, was built in 1985 on the grounds of the NUS at Kent Ridge to work with the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry as their principal teaching hospital. Its national speciality centres, the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) and the National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS), work seamlessly with the NUS’ Cancer Science Institute and Cardiovascular Research Institute respectively.
Throughout the history of these institutions, staff have worked across the university and hospital in the tripartite missions of clinical excellence, developing the next generation of healthcare professionals, and shaping the practice of healthcare through research.
In 2000, the Singapore Government launched the Biomedical Sciences Initiative to develop biomedical sciences as a pillar of Singapore’s economy. This was especially so given that chronic diseases have the propensity to express themselves differently in different populations, drugs’ dosages may vary in different populations from pharmacogenomics and environmental differences and Singapore’s emphasis in developing a knowledge-based economy. Significant investments were consequently made to strengthen basic and translational science. In 2008, on the recommendation of Singapore’s Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council, the NUHS was created as Singapore’s first academic health system with a unified governance, linking the Ministry of Health’s NUH, NCIS and NUHCS, with the NUS’ Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Faculty of Dentistry, and Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health under a Chief Executive, reporting to a Board of Directors.