This paper explains some of the difficulties doctors face when taking up a career in research. It describes the efforts by the government and the Ministry of Health (MOH) to nurture the Clinician Scientist Programme. The nature of research and the mindset of clinicians who are passionate about research are explored and the reasons which drive some of them to pursue a research career. It discusses the need to have structured training for research and how continuing research education is necessary for the researcher. The paper discusses the goals for research and how we can achieve better research outcomes and the importance of good mentorship. It suggests ways to engage more doctors in research in the restructured hospitals by overcoming some of the problems they encounter. Finally, it relates the Biomedical Science initiative of the government through the National Research Foundation and the various programmes in Translational Clinical Research available for clinicians who are keen on a research career.
The bulk of this paper is taken from one of the two keynote addresses delivered on 30th November 2010 at the recent Festschrift of our Mentor, Professor Judith Whitworth, who was until recently, the Director of John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra, Australia. John Curtin School was the first school for medical research in Australia. Prof Whitworth was someone who had received many honours, among which were the Howard Florey Professorship, Australian of the Year Award, Chairperson of the Australian National Medical Research Council, Consultant for WHO Medical Research Advisory Committee. Prof Whitworth had trained three heads of department in Renal Medicine from Singapore, Prof Evan Lee from National University Hospital and Prof Woo Keng Thye and Prof Wong Kok Seng, both from Singapore General Hospital.
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