He was a forward thinker and planner who spearheaded the use of automation and IT in the Clinical Biochemistry Laboratory, setting the stage for the laboratory that we have today.Resourceful. A staff advocate. A calm and confident leader with a strong vision for Pathology. These were used to describe the late Dr Edward Jacob, the former Head of Clinical Biochemistry Section, Department of Pathology and former Chairman of the Division of Ambulatory and Clinical Support Services in SGH. He passed away peacefully on 6 May 2018, after a long illness.
To laud his achievements and contributions to Pathology, Dr Jacob’s family establishes the Edward Jacob Pathology Academic Fund to continue his passion in nurturing the younger generation of biochemists and raise the awareness of Pathology, in particular Clinical Biochemistry, as a discipline.
“I have known Dr Jacob since I was a trainee in Chemical Pathology in 1996. I remember Dr Jacob, while being an honest and demanding boss, as an approachable and caring mentor. He was always generous with his time, ready with a listening ear and responded with reassuring advice. Conversations with him were always enlightening and insightful.
“On more than a few occasions, his sharing of personal experiences reassured me that what I was going through was normal. That encouraged me to press on, as a young doctor, as the only local chemical pathology trainee, as a young leader in the laboratory, even as a first time mother,” recalled Dr Yeo Chin Pin, who now heads SGH’s Department of Clinical Pathology.
“One of my fondest memories is of him saying “bite the bullet and do it”, a clause which is close to my heart and poses as an encouragement for me whenever I am faced with making tough or unpopular decisions,” shared Dr Yeo.
Dr Jacob was also known to be very concerned with staff well-being and always kept an eye out for staff working after office hours in our 24-hour laboratory. Despite his busy schedule, he made time to visit the lab after office hours, and would sit quietly at the back of the lab, observing and occasionally chatting with the medical technologists on duty. Staff on duty appreciated the moral support that he provided by just being there.
He was especially keen to train and nurture the next generation of scientists. Ms Jayme Wong, Senior Principal Medical Laboratory Scientist said, “Dr Jacob encouraged professional development in his team and took an active role to help staff grow and develop. When I plucked up courage to approach him for an opportunity to pursue a postgraduate education, he did not turn me away but considered my request very seriously even though I was then a very young junior medical technologist who had only worked in SGH for 4 years!
“Subsequently, with a chanced opportunity via Talent Development Fund sponsorship and with Dr Jacob’s recommendation, I was very fortunate and grateful to be sponsored to pursue a Masters degree in Biochemistry in the United Kingdom. This also paved the way for subsequent similar professional development for my fellow scientist colleagues.”
Photo: Dr Jacob (with tie) with staff at the Clinical Biochemistry Staff Retreat in 2010
A forward thinker, Dr Jacob spearheaded the use of automation and information technology in the Clinical Biochemistry Laboratory. The result is the laboratory that we have today - a capacity to handle close to 2 million specimens a year and produce a staggering 11.3 million results a year, which translates to more than 30,000 results in a day. He had also envisioned modern SGH pathology laboratories in a dedicated facility and turned that dream into reality by overseeing its development from the 1990s through its completion in 2013 at the Academia.
The Edward Jacob Pathology Academic Fund will benefit deserving medical students and allied health professionals in their pursuits of their medical degree, Masters or PhD in Clinical Biochemistry in Singapore.
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