Unique large-scale population study will yield insights into Asian-specific diseases, improving population health, patient outcomes, and innovations in the local biomedical technology industry.
SINGAPORE, 26 May 2022 – Precision Health Research, Singapore (PRECISE), the central entity implementing Singapore’s National Precision Medicine (NPM) strategy, and Illumina, Inc (Illumina), a leader in genomics technology, announced today a strategic partnership to sequence and analyse 100,000 Singaporean whole genomes (SG100K), to create for the first time, Southeast Asia’s most comprehensive consented population study.
2. Precision Medicine has been identified by Singapore’s Ministry of Health as one of the potential innovative approaches to transform healthcare and address healthcare challenges, and also by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF) as a strategic goal of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan to transform and protect the health of Singaporeans. PRECISE, funded by NRF, collaborates with Singapore research and clinical partners to implement and coordinate this effort nationally.
3. The SG100K project, supported under Open Fund – Large Collaborative Grant1, will involve 100,000 consented Singaporean participants, comprising Chinese, Malay and Indian, representative of 80% of the populations across Asia. SG100K involves multiple research and clinical partners such as medical schools and healthcare clusters to monitor the long-term health outcomes of Singaporeans. It is considered as the region’s leading precision medicine database, yielding deep insights into Asian genomic diversity and Asian-specific diseases. This allows Singapore to better understand key social, environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors associated with important diseases relevant to multi-ethnic Singapore such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and others. SG100K will also enable data-driven approaches to be adopted for improving population health and patient outcomes, revealing why some Singaporeans, but not others, develop certain diseases.
Leveraging the Latest in Technology
4. The three-year PRECISE-Illumina (PRECISE-ILMN) partnership will boost Singapore’s NPM strategy with high-quality genomic data generated at accelerated speed. Leveraging Illumina’s experience and capabilities in large-scale genomic sequencing, the data would be generated based on international best practices and standards. The partnership will also see PRECISE and Illumina collaborating on enterprise-grade data exchange platforms for the secure handling and sharing of anonymised biospecimen data for sequencing, and the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches for genomics analysis. Local sequencing companies in Singapore will also benefit from this collaboration, through training and certification in the usage of Illumina’s proprietary platforms; allowing them to access new markets in the region and internationally.
(L-R, Seated): Gretchen Weightman, Head of Global Commercial Strategy & General Manager of Asia Pacific & Japan, Illumina; Susan Tousi, Chief Commercial Officer, Illumina, Prof Patrick Tan, Executive Director, PRECISE; and Prof John Chambers, Chief Scientific Officer, PRECISE.
(L-R, Standing): Prof Tai E Shyong, Chief Medical Officer, PRECISE; Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies; HE Mr Jonathan Kaplan, US Ambassador to Singapore.
5. “Singapore is well-positioned to become a thought-leader in Asian Precision Medicine. We have strong institutional capabilities in genomics, data analytics, and highly trained, globally-experienced clinicians, all supported by a rich ecosystem in research and national platforms to advance precision medicine and health. We are honoured to partner with Illumina as a strategic partner – this is testament to our shared ambitions and common vision to improve patient outcomes and future-proof Singapore’s population health through the adoption of genomics and data-driven approaches in diseases relevant to Asia,” said Professor Patrick Tan, Executive Director of PRECISE and Genome Institute of Singapore at A*STAR. He is also a faculty member of Duke-NUS Medical School.
6. “Together, PRECISE and Illumina will work to advance Singapore’s biomedical technology industry through creating bespoke data analytics capabilities, establishing large-scale genomic data infrastructure, and creating new career opportunities to support Singapore’s National Precision Medicine programme. We are honoured to partner with PRECISE to improve human health and believe this breakthrough study will serve as an important catalyst for growth in precision-medicine capabilities throughout Southeast Asia.” said Susan Tousi, Chief Commercial Officer Illumina.
Powering Local Ecosystem
7. NovogeneAIT Genomics Singapore Pte Ltd, one of the largest Next-Generation Sequencing service providers in Asia has been appointed by Illumina to carry out genome sequencing for 100,000 individuals in Singapore as part of the SG100K project. According to Justin Lee, CEO of NovogeneAIT Genomics, “The National Precision Medicine (NPM) Project is a landmark initiative to transform healthcare by leveraging advancements in genomics. We are proud to carry out the sequencing for this project and contribute to our national effort to build up our population genomics database. We look forward to partnering with Illumina, a leader in genomics technology; and our local ecosystem partners to enhance our laboratory infrastructure, strengthen our local biotech talent and capabilities to better inform disease prevention strategies, drug development and treatment for the Asian population.”
8. Beyond research and innovation, the PRECISE-ILMN partnership will also cover a spectrum of industry collaborations aimed at elevating the local genomics industry and its adjacencies, with high-value jobs creation in precision-medicine related fields such as drug development, molecular diagnostics, and the data sciences. This will be supported by PRECISE-ILMN joint efforts in the co-development of industry internships and training opportunities to upskill the local workforce with new career opportunities, catalyse growth in the biomedical technology sector, and reduce barriers to entry in new fields such as AI, cloud computing, and data analytics.
9. “Establishing partnerships such as this with PRECISE, is an important part of our global investment decisions. We are immensely proud to contribute to this international collaboration. Genomics can help to deliver on the immediate needs of today’s patient, but also build a database that can be analysed for insights to help tomorrow’s patient,” said Ms Tousi.
10. Added Professor John Chambers, Chief Scientific Officer, PRECISE and Principal Investigator of SG100K, “Singapore’s National Precision Medicine programme will leave a lasting legacy with data-driven health solutions established on national platforms to build a resilient and sustainable healthcare system. Our health data access, management and storage, will be benchmarked against international best practices and safeguards. We look forward to engaging Singaporeans, government, private industries, research and health clusters to embark on a transformative journey for a healthier Singapore.” Prof Chambers is also Professor of Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University.
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Precision Health Research, Singapore
NPM Phase II aims to transform healthcare in Singapore and improve patient outcomes through new insights into the Asian genome and data-driven healthcare solutions. In NPM Phase II, PRECISE will collaborate with Singapore research and clinical partners, including the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, National Healthcare Group, National University Health System, National University of Singapore, and SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre to study the genetic makeup of 100,000 healthy Singaporeans and specific patient cohorts. The genetic data will be integrated with detailed lifestyle, environmental, and clinical data to yield rich insights into factors that contribute to Asian diseases and conditions.
Additionally, NPM Phase II will enhance the breadth and depth of the Precision Medicine-related industry by attracting and anchoring overseas companies in Singapore, while yielding new opportunities for home-grown companies. To enhance and accelerate the precision medicine sector, PRECISE works in close collaboration with A*STAR, the Biomedical Sciences Industry Partnership Office, and the Economic Development Board to catalyse the next phase of growth for Singapore’s healthcare and the biomedical technology industries.
PRECISE is a business unit of the Consortium for Clinical Research and Innovation, Singapore (CRIS), a subsidiary of the Ministry of Health Holdings which strengthens synergies and develop strategies for national-level clinical research and translation programmes under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health Singapore.
For more information, please visit: www.npm.sg
Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit www.illumina.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.