Dr Sydney Brenner (third from left) and Professor Judith Swain (second from right) at the official opening of the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS).
Internationally acclaimed physician-scientist Professor Judith Swain was invited by A*STAR in the early noughties to spearhead Singapore’s clinical and translational research efforts. A year before SICS was founded, she met with the late Nobel Laureate Dr Sydney Brenner – the then Chairman of A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) – in La Jolla, California, to discuss what opportunities laid ahead with the imminent launch of A*STAR’s first research institute devoted to developing translational and clinical research programmes. Towards the second bottle of wine, the scientists had a light-bulb moment that gave rise to the institute's moniker.
On 20 April 2007, SICS was officially launched with Professor Swain as its Founding Executive Director. The same year, Sir Peter Gluckman was appointed as Programme Director for Growth, Development and Metabolism at SICS and is now the institute’s Chief Scientific Officer. Professor Chong Yap Seng took over the reins from Professor Swain in 2015 and has been SICS’ Executive Director since.
SICS is strategically located within the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) medical campus to maximise the synergistic opportunities offered through proximity to clinician-investigators and patient/participant populations. Since its inception in 2007, SICS has developed programmes that have contributed significantly to Singapore’s international scientific reputation and economic development. The bottle [of wine] that was partly responsible for the institute’s name was autographed by Professor Swain and Dr Brenner, and now sits in a display cabinet at the Brenner Centre for Molecular Medicine where SICS is housed – a light-hearted reminder of the institute’s earnest beginnings.