SINGAPORE: Infectious diseases expert Paul Tambyah has been elected as the president of the US-based International Society of Infectious Diseases (ISID).
The National University of Singapore (NUS) professor will be the first Singaporean to hold the position.
Before his term begins in 2022, Professor Tambyah will support the current ISID president, Professor Alison Holmes, in the running of the organisation, said NUS in a news release on Tuesday (Jun 16).
Founded in 1986, ISID is a non-profit organisation dedicated to finding solutions to the problems of infectious diseases across the world. The society also has a special focus in countries with limited resources and which disproportionately bear the burden of infectious diseases.
Prof Tambyah said in an email to TODAY that he was honoured to have been elected to the post "despite the challenging environment".
Professor Jonathan Cohen, a former ISID president, asked him to run for the post, he said.
“I agreed as I felt it was time to have a president from Asia, and that I could contribute to the society’s mission in improving infectious disease care in low- and middle-income countries,” said Prof Tambyah, who is also a senior consultant infectious diseases physician at the National University Hospital.
He added that this would provide opportunities for clinicians and scientists in Singapore to "get involved in the region and the world of infectious disease".
Prof Tambyah said that his plans for the society involved strengthening an "emerging leaders" programme that mentors young scientists from around the world and connects them with academics in major centres.
“I would also like to get the global health programmes in (Singapore’s) three medical schools and connect them with the professionals in the countries where ISID is active."
The medical schools in Singapore are NUS' Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and the Duke-NUS Medical School.
Commenting on the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Tambyah said that this was a critical time for infectious diseases globally.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the fact that viruses do not respect international boundaries," said Prof Tambyah.
"Singapore academics, clinicians and public health professionals have much to contribute to societies such as ISID to help make the world a healthier place for everyone," he added.
Former president of ISID Marc Mendelson said that Prof Tambyah was "well known to all in the field of infectious diseases".
He also "brings a wealth of experience from his time with multiple international societies and august bodies, as well as formidable experience across the spectrum of infection, including outbreaks, tropical medicine, and clinical applied research", said Professor Mendelson.
Prof Tambyah has served as the research director in the division of infectious diseases at the National University Health System, and was also the president of the Singapore Society of Infectious Diseases. He was also the assistant dean at NUS Medicine in 2015.
Prof Tambyah is also the chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party.