S. Shan Ratnam



Shanmugaratnam s/o Sittampalam, better known as Shan S. Ratnam (Emeritus Professor; b. 4 July 1928, Ceylon1d. 6 August 2001, Singapore), was a medical pioneer and leader in the field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G), both in Singapore and internationally. At the peak of his career, he represented Singapore as the secretary general of the Asia and Oceania Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AOFOG), and was the president and a member of the executive board of the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Through these two organisations, he helped place Singapore in the international medical arena and established himself as a prominent figure in the O&G world.2
  
Accomplishments
Sex re-assignment surgery for transsexualism was Ratnam’s research interest for three decades and was also his forte. He performed Singapore’s first sex-change operation in 1971.3


Ratnam is also known as the founder of the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) programme in Singapore. In 1983, he led a medical team to produce Asia’s first test-tube baby when he introduced IVF in Singapore, bringing hope to many childless couples.4 His team of clinicians and scientists went on to achieve various breakthroughs, such as Asia’s first Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) baby in 1986, Asia’s first live birth from a frozen embryo in 1987, the world’s first live birth after microinjection in 1989, and the world’s first infant born via human ampullary coculture in 1991.5

During Ratnam’s tenure with the O&G department at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the department was designated as one of 13 World Health Organisation Collaborating Centres for Research in Human Reproduction in 1972, and gained worldwide recognition and international funding.6 Ratnam’s outstanding clinical and scientific accomplishments included 596 research papers in internationally refereed journals, 396 research papers in local and regional refereed journals, 138 chapters in books and 795 presentations at conferences.7 In 1996, Ratnam was appointed emeritus professor, one of the highest honours at NUS. In 2000, the Shan S. Ratnam Professorship endowment fund was set up to award internationally recognised O&G specialists annually.8

Family and death
Ratnam was greatly influenced by his mother’s ideology of giving and helping others. Though a formidable figure in the academic and medical fields, he tried never to decline anyone.9 He developed heart complications and died of pneumonia at the age of 73 on 6 August 2001. He was survived by a son, a married daughter and two grandchildren.10

Posthumous recognition
Ratnam was awarded posthumously the Honorary Fellow of the College of Family Physicians on 26 August 2001. The Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Singapore also launched the S.S. Ratnam Book Prize that year in recognition of his pioneering work and contributions to the field of O&G. The prize, comprising $500 cash and a certificate, is given annually to the top three final-year NUS medical students at the end of their O&G postings.11

In memory of Ratnam, the AOFOG Council named its Young Gynaecologist Award after him. Called the Shan Ratnam Young Gynaecologist Award, it is given to selected young gynaecologists from developing countries within the AOFOG.12

In 2002, in recognition of Ratnam’s commitment to teaching and training in AOFOG, the SSR Foundation was established in Singapore with the aim of providing obstetric ultrasound teaching within AOFOG member states. To continue his legacy of serving patients wholeheartedly, a Professor S.S. Ratnam Memorial Fund to help needy children was also set up in the same year by a group of Singapore doctors.13

Education14
1957: MBBS Honours, Ceylon.
1964: Certificate in Exfoliative Cytology, London Postgraduate School of O&G / MRCOG, Great Britain / FRCS, Edinburgh / FRCS, General Surgery, Glasgow.
1966: FRCS, General Surgery, England.
1970: MD, Thesis on Intrauterine Contraceptive Device, University of Singapore.
1972: FRCOG / FACS / FICS.
1977: FRACS.
1982: Sims Black Travelling Professorship, RCOG, United Kingdom. 13 honorary memberships, fellowships and degrees.

Career15
1957–61:
Singapore General Hospital.

1961–63: Kandang Kerbau Hospital.
1963–68: Lecturer, Department of O&G, University of Singapore.
1968–69: Senior Lecturer, Department of O&G, University of Singapore.
1970–95: Professor and Head, Department of O&G, University of Singapore/National University of Singapore.

Appointments16
1958–: Member, Singapore Medical Association.
1963–2001: Member, Royal Society of Medicine, United Kingdom.
1967–: Member, Chapter of O&G, Academy of Medicine, Singapore.
1968–2001: Member, British Medical Association.
1969: Chairman, Committee for O&G, NUS.
1969–71: Chairman, Chapter of O&G, Academy of Medicine, Singapore. 
1969–72: President, Singapore Medical Association.
1970: Chief Examiner, M Med in O&G, NUS.
1971–: Member, Family Planning Association of Singapore.
1971–2001: Member, Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore (Board of Trustees of Trust Fund).
1972–82: President, Family Planning Association of Singapore. 
1977–78: President, Singapore Medical Association.
1979–93: Council member, Singapore Medical Association.
1983–84: Council member, Family Planning Association of Singapore.
1985–2001: President Emeritus, Family Planning Association of Singapore.
1988: Director, Graduate School of Medical Studies, NUS.

Awards17
1977:
Singapore Public Administration Gold Medal.

1978: NTUC Friend of Labour Medal.
1985: Public Service Star.
1988: National Science & Technology Award, Singapore Science Council.
1991: ASEAN Award for contributions to Reproductive Medicine.



Author

Sara Pek



References
1. Low, K. T. (2000). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, pp. 213–214. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
2. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)
3. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)
4. Chew, M. (1996). Leaders of Singapore. Singapore: Resource Press, pp. 284–286. (Call no.: RSING q920.05957 CHE)
5. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)
6. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS); Chew, M. (1996). Leaders of Singapore. Singapore: Resource Press, pp. 284–286. (Call no.: RSING q920.05957 CHE)
7 Low, K. T. (2000). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, pp. 213–214. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
8. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)
9. Chew, M. (1996). Leaders of Singapore. Singapore: Resource Press, pp. 284–286. (Call no.: RSING q920.05957 CHE)
10. Vijayan, K. C., & Chan, K. M. (2001, August 7). Medical pioneer Ratnam dies. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS); Book prize named after Prof Ratnam. (2001, November 12). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)
13. Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)
14. Low, K. T. (2000). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, pp. 213–214. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO); Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)
15. Low, K. T. (2000). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, pp. 213–214. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
16. Low, K. T. (2000). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, pp. 213–214. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
17. Low, K. T. (2000). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, pp. 213–214. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO); Tan, K. H., & Tay, E. H. (Eds.). (2003). The history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Singapore. Singapore: Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, National Heritage Board, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RSING 618.095957 HIS)



Further resources
Arulkumaran, S., Salmon, Y., & Daniel, R. O. (1994). A short history of the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore 1972–1993. Singapore: The Society.

(Call no.: RSING 618.0605957 SHO)

Ratnam, S. S. (Ed.). (1979). Adolescent sexuality. Singapore: Singapore University Press for Family Planning Association of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 301.4175095957 ADO)

Ratnam, S. S., Arulkumran, S., & Sen, D. K. (Eds.). (1997). Problem oriented approach to obstetrics & gynaecology. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

(Call no.: RSING 618 PRO)

Ratnam, S. S., Goh, V. H. H., & Tsoi, W. F. (1991). Cries from within: Transsexualism, gender confusion & sex change. Singapore: Longman Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 616.8583 RAT)



The information in this article is valid as at 2008 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Personalities
Health and medicine>>Medical science>>Medical profession
Ratnam, S. Shan, 1928-2001
Gynecologists--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies
Obstetricians--Singapore--Biography