Nightingale collaborates with National University of Singapore to realise the prevention of chronic diseases in South East Asia

Nightingale today announced the first step in a major collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS), one of the world’s leading universities to realise the prevention of chronic diseases in South East Asia.

In the first phase of the collaboration, Nightingale will provide NUS with novel biomarker data for 5,000 blood samples from the Singapore Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) collection, representing the Malay, Indian and Chinese populations in Singapore. The biomarker data is being used to identify biomarkers that predict chronic diseases, particularly focusing on diabetes mellitus. Based on the results of the first phase, Nightingale, working with NUS, aims to expand the initiative to tens of thousands of samples from Singaporean cohorts and biobank collections, and to cover broader spectrum of chronic diseases.

This pioneering initiative is the first of its kind as the majority of medical research relating to chronic diseases has previously focused on populations of European ancestry. It has been widely suggested that ethnic differences play an important role in the development of chronic diseases due to genetic background and environmental exposures, such as diet. This initiative is one of the largest in the world, aiming to improve the understanding of chronic diseases for Southeast Asian populations and eventually being able to tailor prevention and management of diseases to the needs of the population.

Professor Tai E Shyong from the Department of Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS said: “The Singapore Multiethnic Cohort creates a unique research setting to study how to improve the prediction of type 2 diabetes, coronary artery calcification, and changes in cardiovascular risk factors in the Singaporean population. Nightingale’s technology creates a novel opportunity to look at a broad profile of metabolic markers, potentially enhancing the understanding of disease development.”

Professor Rob M. van Dam from Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS said: “It’s an interesting opportunity to examine how these biomarkers are associated with dietary and other lifestyle factors and may mediate associations between lifestyle factors, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and risk of type 2 diabetes. Moreover, potential biomarker associations can be replicated with other studies around the world carried out using Nightingale’s technology, enabling more detailed analysis of the findings in Singapore.”

Nightingale’s acclaimed blood analysis technology measures metabolic biomarkers that recent medical studies have found to be predictive of future risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other common chronic diseases. Until recently, technological constraints and prohibitive costs have prevented the analysis of comprehensive biomarker data from large-scale population collections. Nightingale's technology now makes this viable by measuring over 220 metabolic biomarkers from a single blood sample. Nightingale’s technology is currently being used to analyse the world-leading blood sample collections in more than 20 countries, including the UK Biobank, Mexico City Prospective Study and the Finnish National Biobank (THL Biobank).

Teemu Suna, CEO and Founder, Nightingale Health said: “Nightingale’s blood analysis technology is a global platform. This means that samples measured with our technology all over the world can be combined, compared and replicated. We are excited about this initiative with NUS, as it brings large-scale Southeast Asian sample collections to an international platform, benefitting medical researchers in Singapore and South East Asia but also having a global impact.”

About the National University of Singapore (NUS)

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education, research and entrepreneurship, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. We have 17 faculties across three campuses in Singapore, as well as 12 NUS Overseas Colleges across the world. Close to 40,000 students from 100 countries enrich our vibrant and diverse campus community. Our multidisciplinary and real-world approach to education, research and entrepreneurship enables us to work closely with industry, governments and academia to address crucial and complex issues relevant to Asia and the world. Researchers in our faculties, 29 university level research institutes, research centres of excellence and corporate labs focus on themes that include energy, environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases common among Asians; active ageing; advanced materials; as well as risk management and resilience of financial systems. Our latest research focus is on the use of data science, operations research and cybersecurity to support Singapore's Smart Nation initiative. 

For more information on NUS, please visit www.nus.edu.sg 

About the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH)

Building upon more than seven decades of experience in research, training and practice in epidemiology and public health, the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH) under the National University of Singapore was established in October 2011 as Singapore’s first and only full-fledged national public health tertiary education institution. The School is also a member of the National University Health System (NUHS). 

The School aims to continually foster healthier communities in Singapore and the region, and impact public health programmes and policies through its robust educational programmes and translational cross-disciplinary research work on cohort studies and life course epidemiology, infectious disease research, health technology assessments, health promotion, workplace safety and health, health systems evaluation and health services research. An interdisciplinary approach, augmented by rigorous training, applicable research and regional partnerships, places SSHSPH at the forefront of public health knowledge discovery and practice in Asia. 

The School actively collaborates with many partners including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Harvard School of Public Health and University of Michigan School of Public Health. Its flagship programme, the Master of Public Heath (MPH) degree, attracts students from a wide range of disciplines from within Singapore and throughout the region.

For more information, please visit https://sph.nus.edu.sg/welcome-saw-swee-hock-school-public-health

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