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Pathology turns 118

Painting of the old Pathology Building by Ong Kim Seng

​Pathology began its roots in Singapore during the early 20th century when the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore set up a laboratory service in 1903. The Pathological Department, as it was known then, did much to improve public health in Singapore by investigating and detailing sources of infection and pollution.

A more accurate picture of the state of health of its people emerged through painstaking autopsy work and documentation of subsequent investigations and results.

Now, over a hundred years later, in the 21st century, the Department has expanded from the solo pathologist practice of the early 1900s to a modern facility providing comprehensive laboratory services to meet our patient needs. The spirit and mission of the Department – the quest for knowledge in disease continues unabated. ​ ​

The various hospitals and their respective departments and laboratories in SingHealth Pathology (Singapore General Hospital: Anatomical Pathology, Clinical Pathology, Molecular Pathology and Microbiology, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital: Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Sengkang Health: Pathology and Changi General Hospital: Laboratory Medicine) work closely to push frontiers in research, education and clinical services, with the aim to deliver the best theranostic care to improve outcomes for our patients.

As SGH commemorates its bicentennial alongside 200 years of medicine in Singapore, SingHealth Pathology will also be celebrating Pathology 118. It will be a milestone year of fun-filled events and we look forward to having you join us on this journey to mark 118 years of Pathology in Singapore.

Click here to read about the development of Pathology through SGH 200 years of history.


Pathology Heritage Post Contest

Congratulations to the winners of our "Pathology Heritage Post" contest!

​NamePathology Heritage Post​
A/Prof Tan Ai Ling
Senior Consultant
SGH Dept of Microbiology
​Pathology moved into Academia in 2013. The first lab was started in 1909, opposite the College of Medicine Building. It moved to Block 8 area in 1926, then to Outram Road in 1958 (at the new NCC site). The services and number of tests increased rapidly from the 1970’s and fortunately we started using laboratory information system (LIS) in the mid/late 1980’s to help with the recording and generation of lab test results. Prior to the availability of the LIS, all recordings and reports were manual and handwritten.
Ms Koh Hui Yan
Medical Laboratory Technologist ,
SKH Dept of Pathology
​Pathology encompasses a wide range of specialised disciplines in laboratory medicine. Biochemistry, haematopathology, microbiology, blood bank services, histopathology, cytology and molecular diagnostics. It has evolved from using basic laboratory equipment such as bunsen burners to sophisticated automated equipment for testing of thousands of samples.
Mr Ong Chuan Shen
Medical Laboratory Technologist
SKH Dept of Microbiology
​Our Pathology heritage is so steeped and covers diverse topics. I will share an example about microbiology. I remember once my Professor told me about his Idol Professor Alexander Fleming’s drug discovery journey. With the use of penicillin, many people gained better health and were cured from infections. This is an example of a major contribution towards healthcare. Such is the push for microbiological advancement that many other classes of antibiotics have been discovered thereafter.
Mr Melvin Tan
Medical Laboratory Technologist
SGH Dept of Clinical Pathology
​Pathology has been the quintessential discipline in the study of diseases. It is the bridge between science and medicine. SGH Pathology Department has its roots from 1903 when the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore set up laboratory services to investigate and detail sources of infection and pollution in Singapore. It has since come a long way, over a hundred years of painstaking effort in the quest for knowledge, resulting in the extensive panels of tests available today. Of course, the quest for knowledge remains unabated as the study of Pathology continues to provide even more accurate and reliable solutions in medicine and diseases. I am proud to be part of this journey in pathology.
Ms Fiona Liaw
Senior Medical Laboratory Scientist (Clinical)
SGH Dept of Molecular Pathology
​There was a room in the old Pathology building that was used for dissection of tissues. Once, we attended a conference there and to my horror, the food were placed on the metal tables previously used for tissue dissections. I am now very glad we have sufficient rooms in the new Academia building to host various conferences and events.
Dr Angela Takano
Senior Consultant
SGH Dept of Anatomical Pathology
​Singapore has one of the first cancer registries founded by the father of Pathology in Singapore, Professor Shanmugaratnam.
Mr Tan Shiow Pin
Senior Manager
SKH Dept of Pathology
​From old buildings with bamboo poles and buckets containing formalin at the back of the building to manual, then semi- automation and now total lab automation. This is the evolution of Pathology. The new Academia building is a recognition of the contributions, resiliency and professionalism of the pathology pioneers, who have contributed immensely to the long history of Pathology.
Ms Madeline Lim
Medical Laboratory Technologists I
SGH Dept of Clinical Pathology

One of my favourite memories about Pathology is the heritage walk we had in March 2019. It was before Covid so the whole department was able to participate and mingle with colleagues whom we usually do not meet daily. My team did not win the race but I enjoyed myself fully as we collectively worked through each stage. Finishing on a sweet note, we rewarded ourselves with a cold drink. I look forward to the day where we can resume similar activities and my new colleagues would be able to experience what I have experienced.

Dr Lavisha S Punjabi
SGH Dept of Anatomical Pathology
​I started my training at the peak of the pandemic, with a steep learning curve to overcome in anatomical pathology. Together with a small group of like-minded colleagues, we organised peer-to-peer teaching sessions to collectively progress across learning milestones.
But the lesser known fact is that the idea for these sessions was not our own!
It began as a corridor conversation with someone more senior who shared a story of how the junior trainees back in the day would enthusiastically get together at a multi-headed microscope to share cases and teach each other. I later learnt that it stemmed from the culture to share, that no one could keep knowledge to themselves!

Ms Lim Geok Hoon
Assistant Director
KKH Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

​Click here to view her post

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