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Tahir Pillay

I started making music through boredom. Yet, out of all my achievements, it’s my music of which I’m most proud. As Chair of the Communications and Publications Division of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry (IFCC), I am the first person from the African continent to lead any division of the IFCC in its more than 70 year history. During my busy schedule, on one particularly long intercontinental flight, I couldn’t fall asleep in my economy seat. Far too tired to read or watch movies, I started to mess with my phone and discovered GarageBand and found I had a knack for creating EDM songs. To date, I’ve released over 50 songs and two full albums.

As a musician I’m known to fans (mainly in the Far East) as DJ Kempat, but in academia I’m better known as a professor and teacher of a generation of chemical pathologists in South Africa and the United Kingdom. But these achievements shouldn’t be seen as separated. I often describe myself as an “acoustic Picasso” and believe that pathology is a fusion of skills – an art and a science. 

In fact, much of my music is directly inspired by pathology. My song Soul of Seoul was inspired by IFCC Worldlab Seoul in 2022, while Freiheit interprets the liberation of a trainee after a grueling specialist qualifying examination. My other tracks draw inspiration from the angst of trainees grappling with personal life challenges alongside career aspirations – my newest song Resilience particularly captures this anguish. Many trainees struggle to get to grips with clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine as the rapid exponential growth of current scientific and technological developments causes an explosion in the amount of knowledge that has to be mastered. I hope that my music can be a testament – and a reprieve – to their struggle.

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