Landmark population health study could pave the way for better tools to fight chronic diseases in Asian populations

The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), in collaboration with other healthcare institutions here, has embarked on a landmark comprehensive population health study of 100,000 Singaporeans over a few decades to identify the social, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors associated with diseases prevalent in Singapore, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

Called SG100K, the multi-institutional effort comes on the back of Singapore's rapidly ageing population, which is contributing to an increasing number of people living with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and to steadily rising healthcare costs.

With tremendous differences in health risks between Western and Asian populations, a study like SG100K could pave the way for the development of better tools through precision medicine to predict and prevent chronic diseases among Singaporeans and other Asian populations.

In support of this endeavour, Singapore's Minister for Health Mr Ong Ye Kung officially launched the SG100K study today, and enrolled as an SG100K participant.

Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of the Governing Board of NTU's LKCMedicine, said: "LKCMedicine is coordinating the national multi-institutional SG100K study that seeks to provide fresh insights into mechanisms influencing health. This is aligned with the School's Population and Global Health flagship programme where we conduct large-scale population-based studies to guide disease-centric research. These findings will be harnessed to better deliver preventive care and health promotion in line with the goals of Healthier SG."

As a medical school that drives transformative research, LKCMedicine aims to tackle health challenges of national and global importance. In line with these efforts, the SG100K study will serve as a powerful resource in understanding why certain diseases are more common in different ethnic groups among the local population. Through this study and in collaboration with our partners and researchers, I am confident we will be able to build a more cost-effective healthcare system for Singapore."

Professor Joseph Sung, NTU's Senior Vice President (Health and Life Sciences) and Dean of LKCMedicine

SG100K will draw on data from 50,000 participants across all ethnic groups enrolled in four existing cohort studies by NTU LKCMedicine, the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, the Singapore Eye Research Institute and Singapore National Eye Centre, and the National Heart Centre Singapore. The remaining participants will be recruited progressively over the next two years.

Please see the Annex for quotes from the partner institutions.

NTU LKCMedicine's Professor John Chambers, Lead Investigator of SG100K, said: "Establishing SG100K will be an important milestone for population health and precision medicine research in Singapore. SG100K will enable researchers from our partners organisations to better understand the primary risk factors for chronic conditions of high importance to Asian populations. This will lead to insights to better predict and prevent chronic disease, and to maintain quality of life among ageing Singaporeans."

Over the course of the study, SG100K participants will be monitored for their long-term health outcomes through a combination of approaches, including electronic medical records, disease registries and invitations for further follow-up.

Ensuring that all ethnic groups are well-represented in SG100K will enable population-based research in groups that have historically been under-represented, but that experience important differences in health outcomes. For instance, there is a high risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease seen in Singapore's minority ethnic groups.

Information that will be collected for the study include the measurement of waist-hip circumference, blood pressure, physical fitness, lung function, body composition, skeletal health, cardiovascular health, cognitive performance, as well as glucose and cholesterol levels.

Key biological samples such as blood, urine, and skin tapes will also be collected. SG100K will work with Precision Health Research, Singapore (PRECISE), the national entity established to co-ordinate Singapore's National Precision Medicine strategy, to analyse blood samples to assess genomic and other relevant molecular variation in the population.

Prof Chambers, who is also the Chief Scientific Officer at PRECISE, said: "We will link these baseline research and genomic information to data on health outcomes over the long term, including through medical records.This will generate a precision medicine bioresource that enables advanced research to better understand the behavioural, environmental, genomic and other molecular factors that shape health and health outcomes in Singapore and other Asian populations."

All Singaporeans or Permanent Residents of all ethnicities, aged 30 to 84 years old, including people with pre-existing conditions are welcome to be part of the study. Participants will be offered a detailed health report, which they can use for discussion with their doctors at no charge.

For more information on signing up as a participant and details of the health screening, please visit


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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