Local research in healthy ageing gets $3m boost

Local research in healthy ageing gets $3m boost
PHOTO: Parkway Pantai

Research work into the causes, prevention and treatment of age-related disorders by the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine has received a $3m boost from private healthcare group Parkway Pantai.

The donation was presented to NUS at its 110th NUS Medical Dinner. Named the Parkway Pantai Professorship in Medicine and Healthy Ageing, the gift will allow the School to appoint an expert in functional ageing. This is the science of keeping people healthy, fit and mobile, and to preserve their quality of life as they age.

Recent statistics show that over 20 per cent of Singapore's population is projected to be older than 65 by 2030, while the number of Singaporeans older than 60 who have dementia will increase from 28,000 in 2013 to 80,000 by 2030.

More specifically over the past 30 years, the number of hip fractures among Singaporeans aged 50 and older have increased 5 times in women and 1.5 times in men. Besides normal wear and tear, many degenerative disorders appear to be caused by abnormalities in RNA (ribonucleic acid) processing, protein folding and repair of damaged proteins. These abnormalities worsen as we age.

The Parkway Pantai Professorship in Medicine and Healthy Ageing will provide direction and support for more extensive research into the causes, as well as prevention of neurocognitive and orthopaedic illnesses associated with ageing, such as dementia and bone, muscle and joint disorders.

Preliminary research is being performed at the School to look at these causes and evaluate preventive and therapeutic measures for ageing disorders. With this Professorship, the School can embark on more extensive research in the causes, prevention and treatment of age-related disorders, including dementia and degenerative disorders.

"Our contribution to this Professorship will enable NUS to access eminent academics and clinicians to help advance geriatric medicine in Singapore," said Dr Tan See Leng, Group CEO and Managing Director of Parkway Pantai. "By investing in research and enhancing education in emerging healthcare issues, we would not only benefit our patients today, but also the generations to come," he added.

NUS Medicine Dean Associate Professor Yeoh Khay Guan said the new Professorship in Medicine and Healthy Ageing is a tremendous boost to research and teaching on illnesses and diseases associated with ageing. "It will enable the School to engage eminent academics and clinicians, who will help to advance geriatric medicine in Singapore by facilitating teaching and research, as well as train the next generation of medical professionals to care even more effectively for our ageing population.

This is the third time Parkway Pantai has donated to NUS. In 2000, the group gifted $1.5 million towards the establishment of the Parkway Professorship in Geriatrics at NUS Medicine. The Professorship has been used to engage eminent academics and clinicians in the field of geriatric medicine to help in its advancement through the support and facilitation of teaching, research as well as clinical and community care developments in the field. In June 2012, it donated $2 million to NUS to establish the Mount Elizabeth-Gleneagles Scholarship for financially needy undergraduates at the School. This scholarship has since benefitted eight medical undergraduates in Academic Year (AY) 2013/2014 and another 16 medical undergraduates in AY2014/2015.

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