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Science  23 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5756, pp. 1901
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5756.1901a

Amazing racer. What a year it has been for William Tan. The 48-year-old neuroscientist took time off from his research to compete in wheelchair races around the globe, including a grueling marathon spanning all seven continents. In the process, he raised $1.5 million to establish a professorship in pediatric oncology at his alma mater, the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Stricken with polio at age 2 and paralyzed from the waist down, Tan has been a marathoner since 1980 and has raised more than $14 million for charitable causes around the world, including children with disabilities, needy patients requiring dialysis treatments or prosthetics, and victims of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The seven-continent challenge—which Tan completed in 10 weeks—included a harrowing ride across Antarctica's alternately steep, rocky, and slushy terrain. “At one point, I sank 2 feet into the … slush and had to be pulled out by five runners,” he says. Still, he finished the 42-kilometer race. Tan's tenacity and energy are “incredibly inspiring,” says NUS president Shih Choon Fong.

With his marathon year drawing to an end, Tan will return to St George Hospital in Sydney, Australia, as a resident in internal medicine. He also plans to continue neuroscience research.

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