News Details | 01-Aug-2013

NTU sets up memorial fund in remembrance of late professor

$250,000 raised in the name of Prof Ma Jan, co-inventor of the world's smallest heart pump

One year after his passing, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) today launched a fund in memory of the late Professor Ma Jan. An accomplished scientist, committed educator and former Chair of NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), Prof Ma passed away suddenly in June last year at age 46, after a heart attack. 

With government matching, the Ma Jan Memorial Fund amounts to $625,000. Initiated by his colleagues and staff at the School in memory of Prof Ma’s dedication and contribution to education, the Fund will provide for scholarships and bursaries for students at the school in perpetuity.  More than 400 donors, including colleagues, collaborators, students and friends had stepped forward to give to the Fund, which will remain open to contributions.

In recognition of his contribution to defence science and his successful research collaborations with the Temasek Laboratories (TL@NTU), the High Speed Dynamics Laboratory at NTU was also renamed the Ma Jan High Speed Dynamics Laboratory in his honour today.

NTU Provost, Prof Freddy Boey said, “With the Ma Jan Memorial Fund, talented students who share the passion for materials science and engineering that was so much part of Ma Jan’slife, will not be denied an education at NTU. The fund, and those it supports, will provide a lasting tribute to a much-missed professor who made such a tremendous contribution to materials science education and research during his life.”

Three MSE students from financially disadvantaged families were the first to receive the Ma Jan Bursaries at NTU this morning. The bursaries, each worth $5,000, will support the students for one year of study.

One of the recipients is third-year student Nur Fadilah Jamaluddin, 23, who was formerly taught by Prof Ma Jan. Recalling the moments spent at his lectures, Nur Fadilah said, “Prof Ma was an engaging lecturer, who creatively used new media to reinforce the concepts which he wanted to impress upon us. He also encouraged active participation during his lectures to enhance our learning experience.”
Nur Fadilah, who hopes to become a materials engineer in future added, “I have always aspired to be an engineer. It’s possibly due to the influence of my dad who was an engineering technician. I am extremely humbled to be selected from the pool of applicants as one of the first recipients of the Ma Jan Bursary. I hope that I am able to honour his memory by furthering in the field of Materials Science.”

Another recipient, second year student Woo You Quan, 22, said, “The bursary will be of great help for me and my family in helping to cover our daily expenses and also to help pay off part of my tuition fee.” 

Agreeing, fellow bursary recipient and final-year student Darek Poon, 26, said, “I really appreciate the generous support that this bursary provides. It will allow me to continue pursuing my aspirations without putting the financial burden on my family.”

The Ma Jan Memorial Fund demonstrates the strong culture of giving amongst NTU students, alumni and staff that has been built up over the past decade. In 2005, NTU started the iGave programme to nurture the culture of giving within its own University community. Donors choose if they want to give towards the NTU Bursaries, their own School’s Advancement Fund or NTU Student Life Activities.

About 80 per cent of contributions to NTU are from foundations and corporations, while another 10 per cent come from alumni, staff and students. The remainder are from private individuals and community and government organisations.

 “Prof Ma was well-loved by his students past and present. Through this memorial fund - students, staff, and alumni are able to continue his passion that he held dear in his life - helping needy students," added Prof Boey.

To make a gift to the Ma Jan Memorial Fund, visit:

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A Cambridge University PhD holder, Prof Ma Jan’s teaching and research abilities were exceptional. He swiftly rose through the ranks and became full professor within just 10 years of joining the University. Over the years, he held various management positions in the MSE, including as Head of Materials Technology Division, Vice Dean, Associate Chair (Academic) and Chair.

Prof Ma played a key leadership role in transforming the MSE Undergraduate Programme into one of the top programmes in NTU and he received the National Day Public Administration Medal (Bronze) in 2008 for his contributions.  It was also partly due to his efforts that in May this year, NTU's Material Sciences programme was ranked 14th globally in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject, jumping 17 spots from the previous year.

Between 2009 and 2012, Prof Ma was seconded to become the Director of Temasek Laboratories (TL@NTU). 

An expert on nanomaterials, Prof Ma’s research primarily focused on ceramics and their applications in advanced systems, such as in biomedical and defence devices. Ma Jan was notably recognised for his contribution in diverse areas such as nano-structured materials, mesoporous materials for biomedical applications, piezoelectric materials and advanced materials systems for soldiers.

A dedicated scientist who embodied NTU’s spirit of innovation, Prof Ma successfully secured millions of dollars in industry and government research funding for NTU and patented more than 10 technologies in his short but remarkable 15-year career.

Co-inventor of world’s smallest heart pump

In 2003, he was part of the team with then-School Dean (now Provost) Freddy Boey that patented the world’s smallest heart pump – a piezoelectric heart pump that can be inserted into the body without open-heart surgery. The pump was later commercially licensed to an American biomedical company in Irvine, California.

Prof Ma also co-led a research team with Prof Boey and the Eye Institute at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on an innovative portable cataract surgery instrument that helps to minimise the risk of corneal damage during cataract operations.

He was also an active industrial consultant for organisations such as Advanced Materials Technologies, DSO National Laboratories and Rolls Royce Fuel Cell Systems. 


Media contact:

Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit

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