Kanagaratnam Shanmugaratnam, founder of S’pore Cancer Registry & father of DPM Tharman, dies

He died at the age of 97.

Martino Tan | July 29, 04:48 pm

Kanagaratnam Shanmugaratnam, founder of the Singapore Cancer Registry and the father of Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, has died at the age of 97.

Prominent figure in pathology

The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao reported that Professor Shanmugaratnam passed away on Saturday afternoon, July 28.

Prof Shanmugaratnam set up the Singapore Cancer Registry in 1967 to provide data on cancer trends in Singapore. He was also SCR’s director from 1968 to 2002.

The Asian Scientist Magazine referred to Prof Shanmugaratnam as Singapore’s “Father of Pathology”.

According to Asian Scientist Magazine, Prof Shanmugaratnam “has been working continuously in the field of histopathology—a medical specialty in which diseases are diagnosed by the microscopic examination of tissue samples—since 1948.

The father of three is also an internationally-renowned expert on nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a cancer of the upper respiratory tract, which disproportionately affects ethnic Chinese.

Prof Shanmugaratnam’s formative years and contributions

One of five children of a teacher and a homemaker, Prof Shanmugaratnam entered the College of Medicine in 1938.

The Second World War and the Japanese occupation of Singapore interrupted his studies and he finally graduated in 1947.

Prof Shanmugaratnam joined the Government Medical Service as an assistant pathologist in 1948. He then completed a PhD in pathology at the University of London in 1957.

Over the years, he held different positions at the Ministry of Health, University of Singapore and the National University Hospital.

Prof Shanmugaratnam also served in many international bodies, such as the International Council of Societies of Pathology (1974-1978); president of the International Association of Cancer Registries (1984-1988); and head of the International Reference Centre for the Histological Classification of Tumours of the Upper Respiratory Tract (1972-1995).

Prof Shanmugaratnam also held the position of emeritus consultant at the National University Hospital and was emeritus professor of pathology at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

About Martino Tan

Martino’s parents named him after an Italian priest, Vatican's 1st ambassador to S’pore. He's inspired by the lives of Robert Kennedy & Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the words of George Orwell & William F. Buckley Jr., & the music of the Beatles.

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