Malaysia’s prominent Sikh medical research scientist

Dr Ranjeet Bhagwan Singh (1920-1987) had no money to pay his final university exam fees while studying in Amritsar, Punjab. An anonymous donor came forward. After retiring from Malaysia's Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Dr Ranjeet bequeathed his house in Petaling Jaya and entire estate to help needy students in the field of scientific research

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| Malaysia | 29 July 2017 | Asia Samachar |

Dr. Bhagwan Singh (1920-1987)

By Jasrinder Kaur

He passed away three decades ago, but the late Dr Ranjeet Bhagwan Singh is still making a difference to the scientific world in Malaysia.

A prominent medical research scientist, the 18th Director of the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), between 1972 and 1974, had made many invaluable contributions to the field of medical and scientific research and to the development of diagnostic laboratories in Malaysia.

In 1982, the unmarried pathologist bequeathed his house in Petaling Jaya and the rest of his estate to form an endowment fund to promote the education of the poor and needy, irrespective of race, colour and religion.

“He was a good boss and a good friend. He was a stickler for governance and details,” Dr M Jegathesan, the famed Malaysian athlete who went on to become the 21st director of IMR between 1988-1993, tells Asia Samachar. “He was very straight forward, no nonsense.”

Dr Jegathesan, who carries the title Tan Sri, also added: “He was close to his family, He had looked after his nephews.”

In 1987, Dr Ranjeet died of a heart attack at a dinner at Kelab Aman, Kuala Lumpur, held in his honour. He was 67.

But his memory lives on in the Dr Ranjeet Bhagwan Singh Medical Research Endowment Fund which annually provides financial assistance to young and aspiring scientists.

It is probably his way of paying back for the help that he had received when studying in India where he had graduated with the MBBS from the Medical College at Amritsar, Punjab in 1948.

“As a poor student from Malaya attending medical college in India, Bhagwan Singh faced considerable financial difficulties and was unable to pay the fees for his final examinations. An anonymous donor went to his aid and paid those fees. This act of kindness remained a constant source of inspiration for the rest of his life for him to help others. He donated generously to students in various Universities and Institutions through goodwill loans, endowment funds, scholarships and prizes,” wrote Dr Lim Teong Wah, the late virologist and the 20th director of IMR.

“Dr. Bhagwan Singh was unmarried and lived a simple life, following professional and wide-ranging intellectual pursuits,” he added in the obituary which appeared in the Malaysian Journal of Pathology, the official journal of the College of Pathologists, Academy of Medicine Malaysia. (See full obituary below).

The Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) is now the custodian of the fund with the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) running research grant and a research workshop grant.

The research grant is to enable a young Malaysian scientist to undertake medical/ biomedical research while the research workshop grant is a biennial programme to allow one Malaysian scientist/ institution to conduct a workshop to introduce new research techniques or enhance research technologies in medical or biomedical fields.

The grant for 2017 is out. See here.

SEE ALSO: Dr Ranjeet Bhagwan Singh Research Grant & Research Workshop Grant 2017

Dr Ranjeet joined IMR in 1951 and became a senior bacteriology officer in 1960 before becoming deputy director in 1971, according to information at the IMR website.

Among his contributions were establishing the Bacteriology Department as a WHO reference centre for Salmonellosis.

 

OBITUARY

DR. RANJEET BHAGWAN SINCH
MBBS, PhD, DTM, FRCPath.

The Society records, with regret, the sudden death on 13 June 1987, of Dr. Ranjeet Bhagwan Singh.

Dr. Bhagwan Singh was born in 1920 and graduated with the MBBS from the Medical College at Amritsar, Punjab in 1948. After completing his basic medical training, he went on to obtain a Doctorate in Bacteriology from the Edinburgh University. He also studied and gained working experience in India, Britain, the Philippines and Thailand. He was a Founder Member of the Malaysian Society of Pathologists and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, United Kingdom.

He joined the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur in 1951 and became its Director in 1971, retiring from that post in 1975.

As a poor student from Malaya attending medical college in India, Bhagwan Singh faced considerable financial difficulties and was unable to pay the fees for his final examinations. An anonymous donor went to his aid and paid those fees. This act of kindness remained a constant source of inspiration for the rest of his life for him to help others. He donated generously to students in various Universities and Institutions through goodwill loans, endowment funds, scholarships and prizes.

Over the years, he gave considerable sums of money to the Royal College of Pathologists, United Kingdom to set up an Endowment Fund. The College has decided that this fund, which now stands at ~10,000 be permitted to accumulate until it is sufficient to support, annually, a visit to the United Kingdom by a young pathologist from Malaysia.

In 1982, he bequeathed his house in Petaling Jaya and the rest of his estate to the Dr. Ranjeet Bhagwan Singh Medical Research
Endowment Fund to be run by the Science, Technology and Environment Ministry.

Dr. Bhagwan Singh was unmarried and lived a simple life, following professional and wide-ranging intellectual pursuits. He died from a heart attack at a dinner held in his honour in Kelab Aman, Kuala Lumpur on 13 June 1987.

– Dr Lim Teong Wah (Virologist and 20th director of IMR)

Source: The Malaysian Journal of Pathology, the official journal of the College of Pathologists, Academy of Medicine Malaysia.

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

RELATED STORIES:

Dr Ranjeet Bhagwan Singh Research Grant & Research Workshop Grant 2017 (Asia Samachar, 29 July 2017)

Contribution of the Sikhs in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 21 July 2017)

Harbhajan Singh: Singaporean hero battling SARS epidemic (Asia Samachar, 19 Oct 2016)

Gurinder Singh Shahi: Thinker, eco-warrior who touched so many lives (Asia Samachar, 16 Aug 2016)

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