Published on: 18-Jun-2018
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has launched a suite of new research centres and laboratories to advance the prevention and treatment of the most pressing diseases affecting Singaporeans.
The Population and Community Health Laboratories at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), will seek to understand why these diseases occur. They will also develop more targeted strategies for early prevention and prompt treatment so that Singaporeans can lead healthier and more productive lives. LKCMedicine is a joint medical school of NTU Singapore and Imperial College London.
The laboratories are in line with the Ministry of Health's recent call to move beyond healthcare to boost preventive health by encouraging and empowering Singaporeans to take good care of their health, arrest the causes of ill health early and reduce the progression of long-term chronic diseases.
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Environment & Water Resources, graced the official launch of the Population and Community Health Laboratories today.
Dr Khor was joined by Mr Lim Chuan Poh, member of the NTU Board of Trustees and Chairman of the LKCMedicine Governing Board, and Professor James Best, Dean of LKCMedicine.
Located at LKCMedicine's state-of-the-art Clinical Sciences Building at NTU's Novena campus, the new laboratories consist of the Clinical Research Centre, Centre for Population Health Sciences, Centre for Primary Health Care Research & Innovation and the Exercise Medicine & Physiology Laboratory. (Refer to Annex A for more information on the Centres.)
NTU President, Professor Subra Suresh, said, "As a Singapore medical school, LKCMedicine is a pillar of the national health system. We should leverage NTU's unique expertise and infrastructure to drive health research and a deeper understanding of factors underpinning population diseases. Working together with the university's multidisciplinary institutes will enable solutions that combine the best of science and technology to enrich the human condition. It is important that NTU, as a technologically-advanced and globally-recognised research university, takes the lead in translating research findings from bench to bedside, to improve Singaporeans' quality of life."
New laboratories build on NTU's research strengths
The direction and objectives of the new Population and Community Health Laboratories are summed up in the landmark Health for Life in Singapore (HELIOS) Study. The 20-year study is hosted at the Clinical Research Centre.
The study, led by LKCMedicine Professor of Cardiovascular Epidemiology John Chambers, aims to assess the health of Singaporeans to better predict and prevent chronic diseases, enabling Singaporeans to live healthier lives as they age.
To date, 800 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents aged 30 to 84 have been recruited for this study of more than 10,000 people in the first phase. Their data will form a comprehensive resource that can improve disease prediction, early detection, prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. (Refer to Annex B for more information on the HELIOS Study.)
Professor James Best, Dean of LKCMedicine said, "Together with our partners, the National Healthcare Group, we are investing in improving the health of Singaporeans. HELIOS is our flagship contribution to the national effort in precision medicine. These laboratories are dedicated to capturing extensive information about individuals, that will form a powerful database to improve the delivery of care for our ageing population."
The Exercise Medicine & Physiology Laboratory will focus on studying the effects that exercise has on the health of people as they age. One study is investigating how long-term moderate to vigorous exercise alters cardio-metabolic risks in people of different ages.
Preliminary results from this study suggest that a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of diabetes from a young age. They also demonstrate the benefits of promoting good exercise habits in the younger population as a strategy to address the healthcare challenges of an ageing population.
Results like these provide crucial information that underpins public health strategies aimed at protecting Singaporeans against common diseases. (Refer to Annex C for more information on the Exercise Medicine & Physiology Laboratory Study.)
Shireen Yeo (Ms)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).
Ranked 12th in the world, NTU has been placed the world's top young university for the past four years. The University's main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and it has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) building projects comprising more than 230 buildings, of which 95% are certified Green Mark Platinum. Apart from its main campus, NTU also has a campus in Singapore's healthcare district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg
LKCMEDICINE'S POPULATION AND COMMUNITY HEALTH LABS
The Clinical Research Centre
- The centre is a one-stop facility for high-quality clinical research, which includes eight observation beds, 15 clinical assessment and consultation rooms, specialised equipment, a bioprocessing laboratory and a biobank.
- A dedicated team with experience in different therapeutic areas work with academic faculty, clinicians and industry to conduct early-phase clinical trials, epidemiological, biomarker and physiological studies.
- Studies include research of new investigational products and innovative therapies to address complex medical problems; collection of population health data to inform health policies, and storage of tissue samples for current and future research.
The Centre for Population Health Sciences
- With a focus on transdisciplinary population health sciences, this centre explores new ways of providing care and expertise in digital health (eHealth), health services and outcomes research.
The Centre for Primary Health Care Research & Innovation
- A joint initiative by LKCMedicine and the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, the centre provides research training and funds research studies at polyclinics.
- In May 2017, the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, the Institute of Mental Health and LKCMedicine were awarded a National Medical Research Council collaborative Centre Grant of $5 million over four years to deepen research in multi-morbidity and mental health within a multi-ethnic population.
The Exercise Medicine and Physiology Laboratory
- It focuses on the medicinal properties of exercise in preventing and treating age-associated chronic diseases, such as neuro-cognitive impairment, musculoskeletal decline and development of metabolic syndrome as people age.
- The lab aims to translate research findings into positive health outcomes by integrating community-based exercise and activity programmes with clinical management of age-associated chronic disease.
FACT SHEET: HELIOS STUDY
- The study commenced in July 2017.
- The study will run for at least 20 years.
- LKCMedicine Professor of Cardiovascular Epidemiology, John Chambers, is the lead investigator.
- The study seeks to identify the genetic and environmental factors that underpin the development of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and other complex diseases affecting Singaporeans.
- The study is a gateway to predicting disease susceptibility, and identifying changes in health status.
- 800 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents aged 30 to 84 have been recruited for the study, which aims to assess more than 10,000 people in the first phase.
- The data of the research participants will form a comprehensive resource that can improve disease prediction, early detection, prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.
- Prof Chambers is a National Medical Research Council Singapore Translational Research Investigator (STaR) award winner.
- Prof Chambers' profile is available here.
Study by Exercise Medicine & Physiology Laboratory
- The lab is investigating how long-term moderate to vigorous exercise alters cardio-metabolic risks in people of different ages.
- This study started in 2015.
- The study has recruited 130 clinically healthy participants from three groups: young (20-39 years), middle (40-59 years) and older (60 years and above). These groups are further split into "sedentary" and "active" sub-groups.
- The study aims to recruit 360 participants in total.
- Preliminary data from the study suggests that vital signs such as Body Mass Index (BMI) and fasting blood glucose may not be reliable indicators of metabolic disease risk in healthy populations.
- In addition, while glucose and insulin responses were within the normal range for majority of the participants during an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), sedentary participants had poorer glucose and insulin responses than active participants across all age groups. This predisposes them to a higher risk of diabetes, from a young age.
- Preliminary results from this study suggest that a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of diabetes from a young age. They also demonstrate the benefits of promoting good exercise habits in the younger population as a strategy to address the healthcare challenges of an ageing population.
- The lab is helmed by Assistant Dean for Research and Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology Fabian Lim.
- Assoc Prof Lim's profile is available here.
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