Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam was born in Singapore on 7 February 1940. He received his early education in St Patrick's School and St Joseph's Institution. Dr Tan graduated from the University of Singapore with a First Class Honours Degree in Physics in 1962, and went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he obtained a Master of Science degree. He later obtained a PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Adelaide.
Dr Tan started his career as a lecturer with the Physics Department of the University of Singapore in 1964, after obtaining his Master of Science degree. He joined the University again as a lecturer with the Department of Mathematics after obtaining his doctorate in 1967. In 1969, he left the University to begin a career in banking with the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), where he rose to become General Manager. He left OCBC in 1979 to enter politics.
Dr Tan was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1979 and was appointed Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Education. From October 1983 to January 1985, Dr Tan served as the Minister for Finance and concurrently as the Minister for Trade and Industry. From January 1985 to December 1991, he served as the Minister for Education.
In December 1991, Dr Tan stepped down from the Cabinet to return to the private sector as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OCBC. Dr Tan rejoined the Cabinet in August 1995 and was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. In August 2003, Dr Tan was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for Security and Defence.
Dr Tan retired from the Cabinet in September 2005 and was appointed Deputy Chairman and Executive Director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Private Limited (GIC), Chairman of the National Research Foundation and Deputy Chairman of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council, and Chairman of Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH).
In July 2011, Dr Tan stepped down from his positions at the GIC and SPH to contest in the Presidential Election. He was elected on 27 August 2011, and sworn in as the seventh President of the Republic of Singapore on 1 September 2011.
For his contributions towards Singapore’s development into a global hub of scientific research and education in his earlier roles as Education Minister and subsequently as Chairman of the National Research Foundation, Dr Tan was inducted into the Honorary Senate of the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners Meetings in July 2012.
Dr Tan married Madam Mary Chee Bee Kiang in 1964. They have four children (three sons and one daughter) and five grandchildren.