Delivering Impact Beyond The Bench

ASTAR_Dr Sharon Lim_1000x500Dr Sharon Lim, Director, Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), A*STAR, understands researchers’ challenges and helps drive meaningful policies and initiatives that enable BMRC research entities to deliver on Singapore’s Research Innovation and Enterprise 2025 plan.

Dr Sharon Lim’s interest in biology started at a young age. A research stint in Prof Hanry Yu’s laboratory in secondary school ignited her passion for science and research. In 2004, she was awarded the National Science Scholarship, kickstarting her career with A*STAR. The scholarship gave her the opportunity to study Biochemistry in the University of Wisconsin-Madison and complete her doctoral studies alongside top scientific minds in Virology at Harvard University.

Upon graduation, Dr Lim joined A*STAR as a research fellow, where she held a concurrent appointment as project manager in the Business Development and Strategic Alliances Office. Keen to contribute to upstream planning and strategy formulation to drive biomedical R&D in Singapore, she took on a role in strategic planning in A*STAR thereafter.

In 2019, Dr Lim had the opportunity to further her experience in public sector policy and planning through a secondment to the Industry division of Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) for two years. In MTI, Dr Lim oversaw the road-mapping and development of the lifestyle and tourism sector for Singapore and supported national COVID-19 efforts to ensure that essential services ran smoothly during the pandemic. She also contributed to safeguarding jobs and capabilities within the hard-hit lifestyle and tourism sectors, through the development and rollout of various government support packages and schemes.

Upon returning from her secondment to MTI, Dr Lim joined A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) as the Director of the Planning team. She is now overseeing strategy and resourcing for BMRC research entities, helping A*STAR fulfil its mission to advance science and develop innovative technology to further economic growth and improve lives. With her background in R&D, Dr Lim has firsthand experience in the challenges that researchers face. She is therefore able to drive meaningful policies and initiatives to support BMRC research entities to align with and achieve the desired research outcomes under Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 strategic plan.

A mother of two young girls, Dr Lim spends most of her personal time with her family. Her list of responsibilities include organising birthday parties, planning family outings, chauffeuring duties and ensuring that her daughters get their school work done!

In this feature, she shares insights on what keeps her motivated and the valuable life lessons that she has gained over the years.

Q: What do you think is unique about A*STAR and what keeps you motivated in your career?

A: We have such a unique and memorable name and brand – A*STAR! Many Singaporeans associate A* as the highest academic grade that students can aspire to achieve in their examinations, a symbol of excellence. “A*STAR” thus reflects a passion and pride that is uniquely Singaporean – an ambition and desire to make our mark in the world, to defy expectations and all odds, to constantly strive to punch above our weight, and never content to settle with what we have.

Growing up and seeing Singapore’s progress through the biomedical initiative, I feel privileged that I am able to participate in this journey to chart the next phase of our growth story. It is the impact of the work that I do, contributing to growing our research and innovation ecosystem for Singapore, which has given me tremendous motivation to continue to do my best to help Singapore achieve our A*STAR ambition.

ASTAR_Dr Sharon Lim_team 2Dr Sharon Lim and her team out and about at Biopolis, for their regular team lunch.

Q: Most valuable life lesson from your career so far?

A: I have learnt that I myself determine how I want to live and experience my life and career. It is a conscious mindset that I set for myself, to choose to enjoy the process and the journey, and to look at the “glass half full” each day. What this means is that I try to have fun at work, celebrate small wins and don’t take myself too seriously.

Q: If you could choose a superhero power, which would you choose?

A: Being able to split myself to be at two places at once, because I find that I don’t have enough time to complete all the things I want to be done! If I could be at two places at once, I could get all my work done while being a super mom for my kids without having to make any tradeoffs.

ASTAR_Dr Sharon Lim_teamDr Sharon Lim and her team at the 2022 Public Service Science, Technology and Engineering event.

Q: What advice would you give to those who have a passion for science?

A: YOLO (You only live once)! So put in your best in whatever you do and always strive for excellence. If you have a passion for science, work hard at it and enjoy the process!