Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has launched a suite of new research centers 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 on Monday, 18 June 2018.
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 Centers.)
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-recognized 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 aging 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 aging population.
Results like these provide crucial information that underpins public health strategies aimed at protecting Singaporeans against common diseases.