NUS receives two gifts totalling S$8 million to advance mind health research and attract top talent in private law

Two gifts totalling S$8 million made recently to NUS by Mr Lin Tah Hwa will give a big push to translational research in mental health as well as attracting and retaining top academic talent in private law. 

Promoting vital research to improve mental health of Singaporeans 

The NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) received a gift of S$6 million to enhance the work of the Mind Science Centre, an academic centre under the School. In recognition of the generous gift, the Centre has been named the Yeo Boon Khim Mind Science Centre, in memory of Mr Lin’s late mother. 

Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees, highlighted that the Centre has grown from strength to strength as a result of the generosity of many who had given their time and resources to building the Centre’s mission. “We have been fortunate to have gathered many ardent supporters to ensure that the Centre’s work would be sustainable to deliver long-term impact. Our sincere gratitude goes to Mr Lin Tah Hwa who has made a generous gift of S$6 million to help the Centre build an endowment that will provide a tremendous springboard towards strengthening mental health resilience in Singapore,” he said. 

Mr Lin said, “The naming of the Yeo Boon Khim Mind Science Centre is (my mother’s) humble gift to charity and society. It is in line with the values that she imparted to me – to always remember to help others less fortunate than ourselves, to have a sense of gratitude to the community and country when we have good fortune, and to always know the joy of giving something back to our fellow human beings when the time comes. These are the values my mother taught me during her life, and these are the values I hope, by example, to impart to others now that she is gone.” 

The Yeo Boon Khim Mind Science Centre was launched on 5 May 2023, and Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Mr Teo Chee Hean attended the event as the Guest-of-Honour. 

Mr Teo noted that mental health is more pressing for Singapore today than ever before, affecting all segments of our society. The incidence of age-related mental conditions will also rise in tandem with an ageing population. “Addressing these challenges is critical, as mental health is an integral part of good health. We need all segments of society to work towards this common goal of strengthening the mental health and well-being of our people. The launch of this research centre is a major and timely one to boost our national effort,” he said. 

Mr Teo added, “What makes this centre stand out is its focus not just on mental health research, but also translating this research into community interventions, including early detection and preventive strategies. I look forward to the Centre’s continued focus on translational research that produces outcomes of direct benefit to our community. I am confident that (its) work will continue to positively impact the mental health and well-being of Singaporeans for many years to come.” 

The Mind Science Centre was set up in 2016 to carry out translational research on mental health and resilience, as well as build preventive strategies and social interventions - with an emphasis on early detection - to tackle mental health risk factors in the local community. The Centre uses approaches such as brain imaging, behavioural experiments, and computational modelling to research topics ranging from emotion and motivation, perception and attention, to decision-making, and social cognition. 

One of the Centre’s notable works is the Jurong Ageing Study, which is a 10-year study on ageing within a cohort of elderly participants living in the western region of Singapore. Findings from this cohort study have been incorporated into the Age Well Everyday Programme and translated into tangible activities and efforts to increase socialisation and delay cognitive deterioration among seniors. 

The Centre has also recently completed the NUS Youth Epidemiology and Resilience Study – this is Singapore’s first nationwide study on the mental health status and resilience of its youths. 

In addition to research, the Centre offers training and education in mind science, including workshops, courses, and seminars for students, researchers, healthcare professionals, and the general public. It also hosts public events and outreach activities to promote mental health awareness and understanding. 

Expressing the School’s appreciation for the gift, Dean of NUS Medicine Professor Chong Yap Seng said, “We are deeply grateful to Mr Lin Tah Hwa for his generosity. This gift will support the transformational work being carried out at the Yeo Boon Khim Mind Science Centre as it develops innovative strategies to address and boost the mental well-being of Singaporeans.” 

“This will be an important pillar for Singapore in the arena of psychological medicine as our country reforms its healthcare system, targeting better population health under its Healthier SG strategy,” he added. 

New law professorship to attract and retain top talent

Mr Lin has also made a S$2 million gift to the NUS Faculty of Law to establish the Chan Sek Keong Professorship in Private Law. Named in honour of Singapore’s third Chief Justice, who is also a personal friend of Mr Lin, this new Professorship aims to help NUS Law attract and retain the finest academics in the field of private law, which includes contract law, equity, property restitution, torts and trusts. 

“NUS Law is deeply grateful to Mr Lin for his selfless generosity in establishing this Professorship in honour of his friend, thus enabling us to recognise Dr Chan’s far-reaching contributions to Singapore law as one of our finest legal minds. Building on his legacy, the Chair will support research and education by an esteemed academic in private law, a field that is of vital importance to Singapore’s prosperity and stability,” added Professor Andrew Simester, Dean of NUS Law. 

Since 2009, Mr Lin and his family have also made four other professorship gifts to NUS. 

Read the press release here