Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Neuroscientist made distinguished alumnus

5 March 2014

Neuroscientist made distinguished alumnus

Neuroscientist, medical doctor and Paralympic wheelchair athlete, Dr William Tan, has been made a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Auckland.

He is one of six University of Auckland Distinguished Alumni to receive the award at a gala dinner in Auckland next week.

The 56 year old from Singapore gained an MPhil (Medical Science), Master of Health Science, and PhD in Paediatrics from the University of Auckland between 1989 and 1995.

Dr Tan contracted polio at two years old, resulting in paralysis from the waist down. He has since shown amazing strength in overcoming adversities.

As a young man, he pursued his dream to become a scientist and medical doctor. After gaining a First Class Honours in Physiology, Dr Tan won a Singapore scholarship to pursue his PhD in Paediatrics at the University of Auckland working under the guidance of Professor Sir Peter Gluckman and Christopher Williams.

“I was looking at the process of brain injury from oxygen deprivation during childbirth and how interventions using drugs can be carried out to salvage the brain cells after the injury,” he says.

After his PhD, he continued the same field of neuroscience research at the University of Auckland’s Research Centre for Developmental Medicine and Biology for two years. He left Auckland in 1995 to become a research fellow in Neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic where he translated his skills and experience to the adult setting - looking at the process of brain injury from oxygen deprivation during neurosurgery and during stroke.

“My work as a neuroscientist takes a very different form now,” he says. “I am using my knowledge of neuroscience to help individuals, leaders and organisations peak perform, (as the chief peak performance strategist at Singapore’s Peak Performance Institute).

He is also a resident physician at the National Cancer Centre in Singapore looking after cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (with 100 patients to look after a day on average). He also travels extensively to speak in various countries as an international inspirational speaker and neuroscientist.

Dr Tan’s record as a talented sportsman is also impressive. A triple gold medallist at the Asia-Pacific Games in 1986, he has competed in many international Games including the 1988 Seoul Paralympics and the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.

He has also used his athletic abilities to help fundraising for needy causes around the world. These have included skydiving, water-skiing, sailing and climbing buildings. Over the last 20 years he has raised more than $18 million for charities both locally and internationally.

Dr Tan became a wheelchair marathon champion in Singapore, and while living in Auckland he “blossomed as a wheelchair athlete marathon racer”, competing in regional games, nationals and marathons.

“The highlight of which was I broke five New Zealand national wheelchair track records in one day,” he says.

One of his ultra-marathon endeavours included a wheelchair push the length of New Zealand.

He has competed in many marathons including the London and Boston Marathons. In 2007, Dr Tan became the first person in the world to complete a marathon in the North Pole. In the same year, he broke the world record for completing 7 marathons across 7 continents in 26 days, 17 hours, 43 minutes and 52 seconds- an amazing achievement.

Dr Tan also received widespread international recognition including the Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award (Humanitarian/ Voluntary Leadership) given by the Junior Chamber International, USA in 1997; the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Youth Work in 1998 and the ASEAN Youth Award in 2000. In 2003, he was honoured with the Reader's Digest Inspiring Asian Award which 'recognized deserving individuals who must be able to demonstrate that they have made a difference or are making a difference and are encouraging others to do so'.

In early 2008, Dr William Tan was recognised at the Annual Sports Superstar Awards, held by the Singapore Disability Sports Council, winning the Sportsman of the Year Award for 2007.

In April 2009, Dr Tan was diagnosed with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant for stage four leukemia. Successfully battling the disease in its end stages, he was advised against racing by his oncologist, deciding instead to reinvent himself and take up the sport of para-table tennis in 2011, where he climbed the standings from 123rd in the world at the beginning of the year to 48th just six months later.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

August 4: Centenary Of New Zealand Entering The First World War

PM John Key: I move, that this House recognise that on the 4th of August 2014, we will mark the centenary of New Zealand entering the First World War... More>>

ALSO:

Cyclists Net First NZ Gold

New Zealand won a gold meal and two bronzes on the first day of the Commonwealth Games. There was joy and heartbreak in an incredibly full day of sport. Here's how the New Zealanders fared. More>>

Cap Bocage: Anti-Mining Campaign Doco Debuts At NZ Film Festival

Playing at this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival, Cap Bocage is a close-up exploration of the forces that came into play when environmental issues and indigenous rights became intertwined in New Caledonia ... More>>

Film Fest:

More Film:

Sharon Ellis Review: A View From The Bridge

Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge is Circa’s latest big production, it opened on Saturday 19 July and it is a stunning triumph. More>>

Māori Language Week: He Karanga Kia Kaha Ake Te Tīhau Ki Te Reo Māori

The Māori Language Commission wishes to see social media swamped with Māori language tweets and messages for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori using the hashtag #tekupu. More>>

ALSO:

Book Vote: Kiwis Prefer Young Adult & Classics

To compile their Top 100 List for 2014, Whitcoulls again asked New Zealanders to vote for their favourite books and authors. And while classic novels continue to appeal to Kiwi readers, 2014 marks a significant new trend – the increasing popularity of novels for young adults. More>>

ALSO:

Five NZ Cities: Bill Bailey Back To The Southern Hemisphere

The gap between how we imagine our lives to be and how they really are is the subject of Bill’s new show Limboland. With his trademark intelligence and sharp wit, he tells tales of finding himself in this halfway place. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Book Television Is Coming

Carole Beu of The Women’s Bookshop in Auckland, Graham Beattie of The Book Blog and producer Deb Faith of FaceTV have raised enough money via crowd funding at Boosted – just under $7,000 so far – for 12 episodes, which begin production in September, and will be on screen later that month. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news