The first Malaysian doctor to gain a PhD in Health Informatics, Prof Awg Bulgiba is also the first public health physician in Malaysia to accumulate these 4 fellowships (Fellow of Faculty of Public Health UK, Fellow of Public Health Medicine Malaysia, Fellow of Academy of Medicine Malaysia, Fellow of Academy of Sciences Malaysia).
Prof Awg Bulgiba was Secretary-General for the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and Council Member for the Academy of Medicine Malaysia from 2019-2023. He was also formerly President of the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health-KL or APACPH-KL (a Malaysian NGO dedicated to public health and Malaysian chapter of APACPH), Vice-President of the College of Public Health Medicine, Malaysia, Chair of the Council of Deputy Vice-Chancellors (Academic and International), Chair of the Council of Deputy Vice-Chancellors (Research and Innovation) and Chair of the NSR (National Specialist Register) Specialty Sub-Committee for Public Health.
Prof Awg Bulgiba was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) for the University of Malaya (UM) from 2015-2018 and oversaw a period of great change in the portfolio. The Academic and International portfolio went through a period of restructuring and transformation, greatly improving UM’s academic reputation and internationalisation which contributed to an extraordinary rise in UM’s QS world rank from 151 in 2014/15 to 70 in 2019/20.
Before being appointed DVC (Academic & International), Prof Awg Bulgiba was DVC (Research & Innovation) in the same university from 2012 to 2015. During this period, he oversaw a period of extraordinary research growth which firmly established UM as the top Research University in Malaysia. He continues to sit on the editorial boards of the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health (APJPH) and Malaysian Orthopaedic Journal (MOJ) and several national committees such as the National Committee on Research Integrity, MoHE R&D Funds Steering Committee and MOSTI R&D Expert Panel. Prof Awg Bulgiba is also a member of the Inter-Academy Partnership (IAP) for Urban Health.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Awg Bulgiba was appointed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) to head the COVID-19 Epidemiological Analysis and Strategies (CEASe) research project and the Independent COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee (ICVAC). He appeared on TV and radio on more than 40 occasions, was cited more than 400 times in the media and spoke on COVID-19 in more than 30 webinars and online conferences. A book (“Viewpoints during a pandemic”) on his COVID-19-related opinions which were expressed from March 2020 to May 2022 was published in October 2022. This book is available in the National Library of Malaysia as well as several public university libraries.
Prof Awg Bulgiba has been an external examiner and assessor for several Malaysian and foreign universities and was Chair for the University of Malaya Wellness Programme (2007-2009). In addition, Prof Awg Bulgiba was the Malaysian coordinator for the Asia-Europe Clinical Epidemiology & Evidence-Based Medicine Programme (2007-2010), which was a 4-way collaborative effort between UM, University Medical Centre, Utrecht and Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford and the Rumah Sakit Cipto Mangunkusumo, Jakarta. This collaborative effort resulted in him founding and heading the Julius Centre UM (JCUM) from 2008 to 2012. JCUM is now known as the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Practice (CEBP) and is the most productive epidemiology research centre in Malaysia.
In 2008, Prof Awg Bulgiba was the Organising Chair for the 40th Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) Conference (7-9 Nov 2008), which was the fastest APACPH Conference to be organised, a mere 10 weeks from award to actual conference. In 2012 he was the Organising Chair for the 1st Asia Pacific Clinical Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Medicine (APCEEBM) Conference (6-8 July 2012) and in 2015 he was the Organising Chair for the 3rd Asian Population Association Conference (27-30 July 2015).
Prof Awg Bulgiba has published more than 100 Web of Science-indexed journal articles and continues to be engaged actively in research. He was the lead author for “Strengthening Academic Career Pathways and Leadership Development”, a book used for the University Transformation Programme in Malaysia.
As Project Director, Prof Awg Bulgiba headed a team which completed Malaysia’s National Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2021-2030 (NPSTI 2021-2030). NPSTI 2021-2030 was launched in 2020 and is now setting the direction for science, technology and innovation (STI) development in Malaysia until 2030.
In 2010, in recognition of his contributions to public health, Prof Awg Bulgiba was made a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians, UK (FFPH by distinction), one of only a handful of fellows from South-East Asia. He was made a Fellow of Public Health Medicine Malaysia (FPHMM) by the Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association in 2012. In 2013, Prof Awg Bulgiba was made Fellow of the Academy of Medicine Malaysia (FAMM) and Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (FASc) becoming the first public health physician in Malaysia to accumulate these four fellowships (FFPH, FPHMM, FAMM, FASc).
Prof Awg Bulgiba was awarded the Ma’al Hijrah Award for Outstanding Achievements in Research and Development in 2013 and the Johan Bintang Kenyalang in 2014, both by the Sarawak State Government. He was awarded the Johan Mahkota Wilayah by the Federal Territory Government in 2015, Panglima Gemilang Bintang Kenyalang (which carries the title Datuk) by the Sarawak State Government in 2017 and Dato’ Paduka Mahkota Perak (which carries the title Dato’) by the Perak State Government in 2017.
In 2018, in recognition of his leadership contributions, he was awarded the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) Excellence in Leadership Medallion, joining a select list of distinguished awardees which include US Senator Edward Kennedy (1990), US Lt Governor Benjamin Cayetano (1991) and Thailand House of Representatives Speaker Marut Bunang (1993). He was also honoured with the University of Malaya Eminent Scholar Award in 2018, the highest award by the University of Malaya.