COULD this be Singapore’s most well qualified taxi driver? Dr Cai Ming Jie became an SMRT cabby last November after spending 16 years as a researcher at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star). His career switch has become a talking point online after he started a blog earlier this year. Alongside his experiences as a cabby, he takes issue with the circumstances of his departure from IMCB last May. An SMRT spokesman confirmed that the former researcher is a driver with SMRT Taxis, but Dr Cai declined to add more beyond this: ‘All that needs to be said is on the blog online…It should be IMCB that needs to be asked questions, if any.’ The China-born Dr Cai, who became a Singapore citizen, obtained a PhD in molecular biology from Stanford University in 1990. The Straits Times learnt that he did a two-year postdoctoral fellowship after leaving Stanford at the University of Washington, under famed genetist Professor Lee Hartwell, who won a 2001 Nobel Prize in physiology. He joined IMCB two years later and worked as a principal investigator in the field of cell genetics up till his departure. A spokesman for A*Star, meanwhile, said renewal of all its researchers’ contracts is based on a number of factors, including the time taken to train PhD students, their performance and their contributions to the research institutes and the agency in general. Dr Cai’s work, like that of all A*Star researchers, was assessed by an external Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which recommended his contract be terminated. Still, in spite of the submission of countless curriculum vitaes and applications to universities, government agencies and companies since he was told he would be let go in 2007, Dr Cai failed to get a successful response. The former researcher now drives a four-year -old Toyota Crown. ‘At a time like this, the taxi business is probably the only business in Singapore that still actively recruits people,’ he said.