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Singapore Precision Medicine Program to Analyze Genetics of 150K Citizens

NEW YORK — Singapore's National Precision Medicine (NPM) program has kicked off a four-year research initiative to analyze the genetics of 150,000 of its citizens, organizations involved in the effort announced on Wednesday.

The NPM program was launched in 2017 with a 10-year timeline to help establish the frameworks and infrastructure to roll out precision medicine throughout the country. The first phase of the effort focused on building a genetic databank for multi-ethnic Asian populations, which was completed in late 2019 with data on 10,000 healthy Singaporeans.

For the second phase of the program, NPM established an organization called Precision Health Research Singapore (PRECISE), which over the next four years aims to analyze the genetic makeup of 100,000 healthy Singaporeans and up to 50,000 individuals with specific diseases. The resulting data will be integrated with lifestyle, environmental, and clinical data to yield insights into the factors that contribute to disease in Asians.

To achieve this goal, PRECISE will collaborate with Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, the National Healthcare Group, the National University Health System, the National University of Singapore, and SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.

PRECISE will also pilot the rollout of precision medicine in clinical practice, building on earlier work by A*STAR and Duke-NUS Medical School researchers who analyzed the genetics of 412 Singaporean families over six years and used their findings to diagnose and treat 160 children with rare conditions.

"In NPM Phase II, we will be working with doctors, healthcare institutions, and the Ministry of Health to find ways to apply precision medicine to improve the health of Singaporeans in a way that is affordable and maximizes the benefit to the patient," PRECISE Chief Medical Officer Tai Shyong said in a statement.

It will also work with A*STAR, the National Research Foundation Singapore, and Singapore's Economic Development Board and Heath Promotion Board to attract international biomedical companies to Singapore to boost these industries domestically.

"PRECISE will be looking to develop meaningful public-private partnership models to facilitate growth and drive innovation across the healthcare and biotechnology industry [by] creating higher-value jobs, nurturing the next generation of scientists and clinicians, and strengthening Singapore's status as the region's leading medical hub to deliver precision medicine-based treatments," PRECISE Executive Director Patrick Tan added in the statement.