Mr. President, it is my privilege and honor to present to you Prof. Cheng-Har Yip of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Yip is a consultant breast surgeon in Malaysia’s Sime Darby Medical Centre and holds appointments at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and as clinical professor on the faculty of medicine, University Tunku Abdul Rahman, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is lead clinician for the Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation breast cancer research program.
The daughter of a school teacher, Cheng-Har was born in the small Malaysian town of Kampar. The first in her family to graduate from college, she was conferred with a medical degree from the University of Malaya in 1981 and began her medical training at a time when only a handful of women in her country were surgeons. After becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Glasgow) in 1985, Dr. Yip pursued an academic career in the department of surgery, faculty of medicine, University of Malaya, from which she retired as professor in September 2012.
Dr. Yip has two sons, one of whom is currently studying medicine. She first trained in general and pediatric surgery but then subspecialized in breast surgery, realizing that female patients with breast problems often prefer to see a woman surgeon. After breast surgery training in the UK, Dr. Yip created one of the first breast clinics in Malaysia at the University of Malaya Medical Centre, which now treats more than 300 new breast cancer cases each year. At the beginning, neither medical oncology nor palliative care services were available, so Dr. Yip learned to give her own chemotherapy and provide palliation, simultaneously running the hospital’s general surgery services. Cheng-Har Yip was a pioneer who acquired skills and started programs because her patients needed them.
Following a 1995 research grant to study Malaysian breast cancer epidemiology, in 2011 Dr. Yip was awarded a $5 million research grant from the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education. She has more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and continues her role as research advisor to the Breast Cancer Research Programme, having established a tissue repository and breast cancer database at the Sime Darby Medical Centre.
Dr. Yip chairs multiple breast cancer guideline committees, was president of the Association of University Surgeons of Asia and the Asia Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention, and is a council member of Breast Surgery International. She became the first woman president of the College of Surgeons of Malaysia in 2010. She has consulted for the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Cancer Control Conference, and the Breast Health Global Initiative. In 2009, Dr. Yip was awarded both the Union for International Cancer Control 2009 Reach to Recovery International Health Professional Award and the Malaysian Greatest Women of Our Times award. In 2012, she was awarded the title of “Dato” from the Sultan of Perak in her home state. Most recently, in August 2013, Dr. Yip became president-elect of Breast Surgery International during the organization’s annual meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
Mr. President, it is with great pride that I present Dr. Cheng-Har Yip, breast surgeon, teacher, researcher, and patient advocate for Honorary Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons.