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Senior researcher dies of cancer at 65 (The Straits Times, 07 September 2011, Pg B08)

07 Sep 2011

 
By: JUDITH TAN

DR YEE Woon Chee, a founding member of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore (MDAS), has lost his fight against a rare form of muscle cancer.

He died last Wednesday aged 65, after spending 45 days in hospital.

Dr Yee, who was born in Malaysia, was a senior principal research scientist (clinical research) at Singapore General Hospital.

He had also previously been the deputy director for research at the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI).

Dr Yee made headlines in 2003 when he and Associate Professor Lee Wei Ling, the current director of NNI, walked out on a $10 million research project for ethical reasons.

The project was to track mutations in the DNA of Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy patients, in the hopes of finding a cure. British researcher Simon Shorvon had carried out tests on patients with Parkinson’s without telling their doctors or getting permission from the hospitals’ medical ethics committees. He was sacked.

A clinician-scientist, Dr Yee came to Singapore in 1997 after a stint with Washington University in St Louis in the United States.

He was instrumental in setting up the MDAS in 2000.

The association’s senior manager Sherena Loh, 52, said Dr Yee was very committed and would dedicate his time whenever he could. She added that the soft-spoken doctor would put everyone before himself.

“When Dr Yee was warded in hospital on July 18, it was a few days before the association’s AGM (annual general meeting). He called to inform us he would not be taking part and to carry on without him,” she recalled.

Ms Loh told The Straits Times that the battle against the cancer was “a very painful one for Dr Yee, and he took solace in the card made by the beneficiaries”.

From its early days when there was only one employee, the MDAS now has its own centre where events are held. It also has its own vehicle to offer transportation services for members.

Dr Yee encouraged the members to take part in sports as a way of empowering them to manage their disability, Ms Loh said.

His death has left a void at the association, and it is now looking for a doctor to fill his shoes.

He was cremated on Sunday, and his ashes were taken back to Ipoh, his birthplace in Malaysia.


Email: juditht@sph.com.sg

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Last Modified Date :26 Sep 2013