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A*STAR, NUS Launch Center for Research into Nutrition, Metabolic Diseases

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National University of Singapore and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, or A*STAR, announced today the creation of the S$148 million (US$118 million) Singapore Centre for Nutritional Sciences, Metabolic Diseases, and Human Development (SiNMeD).

The collaboration between NUS' Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and A*STAR's Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences is aimed at positioning the facility to be "the leading centre in Asia for research in the nexus between nutritional sciences, metabolic diseases, and human development."

SiNMeD, the partners said, will concentrate on fundamental, clinical, and translational research to elucidate how nutrition and early development influences the onset and progression of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. In particular, the research will focus on the nutritional needs of Asians, an area where data is lacking, they said.

The key research programs will be in early development, which will focus on mother and infant nutrition, growth, and developmental epigenetics; nutritional sciences; and metabolic diseases.

The program will build on existing collaborations, such as GUSTO — a long-term study of pregnant Singaporean mothers and their fetuses aimed at discovering ways of preventing the onset of diseases in the later years of children — and the EpiGen consortium, an alliance of epigenetics researchers from around the world, NUS and A*STAR said.

Chong Yap Seng, an associate professor at NUS and deputy executive director at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, will head SiNMeD.

"SiNMeD's research will help us to understand how the food we eat can lead to epigenetic changes in our DNA, which will in turn, either protect or predispose us to diseases like obesity and diabetes," Benjamin Seet, executive director of A*STAR's Biomedical Research Council, said in a statement. "This opens up new approaches to prevent and treat these diseases.

"This area of research represents a strategic research thrust for A*STAR and Singapore. If we do this well, it will provide a unique and very competitive platform that will conduct cutting-edge research, as well as serve to strengthen our partnerships with some of the world's largest nutrition companies," he said.