MSN Lifetime Achievement Award 2017

Prof CT Tan - Lifetime Award

Professor Dato’ Dr Tan Chong Tin


Professor Dato’ Dr. Tan Chong Tin was born in Penang on October 27th, 1948. He received his early education at Chung Ling High School and obtained his medical degree from the University of Melbourne in 1972.

He joined University of Malaya as a Lecturer in 1977 and was awarded a Commonwealth Medical Fellowship to the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, in 1982. In 1990, he was awarded MD by the University of Malaya and was appointed Full Professor in 1992.

He is married to Mdm Irene Yek Siew Hong and they have two sons, Dr. Tan Li Ping and Mr. Tan Li Kuo.


Through his dedication, clarity of vision, originality, and ability to combine clinical and scientific skills, Professor Tan Chong Tin has made numerous important discoveries in clinical neurology. His earliest work was in establishing the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Malaysia.

In 1998, a mysterious and rapidly fatal encephalitis affected more than 200 individuals in pig-farming communities in the state of Negri Sembilan in Malaysia. Professor Tan led a team of clinicians and scientists across different specialties in the University of Malaya, to study and combat the disease, which was threatening to become a pandemic.

Their ground-breaking work led to the landmark discovery of Nipah virus encephalitis in 1999. The meticulous work of the team gave rise to many publications in top medical and scientific journals, including the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. For their outstanding contribution, the Nipah Virus Encephalitis Investigation Team was conferred the prestigious Mahathir Science Award in 2006 and the Merdeka Award in 2008.

Professor Tan, together with younger specialists he has nurtured and trained, has continued to make significant contributions in neurology including, most recently, identification of Sarcocystis nesbitti as a cause of febrile myositis in humans, characterization of tuberculous meningitis, and improved understanding of the psychological aspects of epilepsy.

Professor Tan has been a strong advocate for research in clinical neurology and the neurosciences in Asia. He has been the Editor-in Chief of Neurology Asia for over two decades and is an Editorial Board member of several important medical journals. In recognition of his scientific excellence, Professor Tan was a recipient of the James H Nakano Citation Award from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003 and the University of Malaya Vice Chancellor’s Award for Highest Impact Factor and the Most Highly Cited Paper in 2007.


Professor Tan was one of the pioneers in developing clinical neurology and neurophysiology services in Malaysia. As the Division Head of Neurology at the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) for over two decades, he was involved in the training of more than 50 Malaysian neurologists and was instrumental in formalizing the neurology subspecialty training program in the country.

He was Chair of the National Specialist Register for Neurology from 2005 to 2013. His dedication to neurology training in under-served regions of the world has also seen more than 50 neurology Fellows come through the Unit, from countries such as Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nigeria, Sudan, and Mozambique.

Prof Tan was a great mentor not only to many neurologists, but has personally fostered a group of keen neuroradiologists, paediatric neurologists, neurosurgeons and allied health professionals as well.


Over the years and in many ways, Professor Tan has helped to bridge the gaps in neurology education in the region. Besides chairing and speaking in various international conferences, Professor Tan was the founding member of several important neurology societies; namely the Malaysian Society of Neurosciences, ASEAN Neurological Association (ASNA) and the Pan-Asian Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (PACTRIM); which aimed to promote neurology education, research and networking in the region. Professor Tan also served as the Vice President of International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) from 2005 to 2009 and has helped formed the Commission of Asian & Oceanian Affairs and Asian Epilepsy Academy (ASEPA) within the ILAE. He was awarded the Ambassador for Epilepsy by the ILAE in 2005 for his remarkable contribution in advancing the cause of epilepsy.

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