$3.8m boost for food research

$3.8m boost for food research
A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh.

A tie-up between Singapore and New Zealand agencies is set to bear fruit soon in the area of food and nutrition research. Childhood obesity and pregnancy complications are some of the topics to be examined.

Under the collaboration, five joint research projects will receive a total of about S$3.8 million in fresh funding over the next two years, to start this month.

The funds will be provided 50:50 by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

In a statement yesterday, A*Star said that the five teams based in Singapore and New Zealand had been selected to receive the grant.

One of them, comprising A*Star's Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), the National University Health System and the University of Otago, will study the effects of weaning foods on bacteria inhabiting the large intestine, and the implications for child growth and obesity.

Another team, made up of the SICS, the National University of Singapore and the University of Auckland, will examine the association between maternal dietary patterns and pregnancy complications in Asian women.

The study will also aim to predict pregnancy complications. The collaboration is the result of an agreement signed between A*Star and MBIE in June last year.

"With Asia experiencing a boom in its middle class, characterised by larger disposable incomes and more hectic lifestyles, Asian consumers are increasingly placing a greater emphasis on nutrition and its impact on health," said A*Star.

It said food and nutrition research has been identified as a "key priority" for Singapore in the biomedical sciences.

Dr Prue Williams, general manager of science investments at MBIE's Science, Skills and Innovation Group, said: "Food and biomedical science are coming closer together as researchers attempt to prove the relationships between food, health, and the risk of developing disease.

"New Zealand's world-class food and nutrition science capabilities combined with Singapore's excellent knowledge base and access to impressive science infrastructure create an exciting opportunity for collaborative gains for Singapore and New Zealand."

A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh said that the partnership will "further develop our understanding of the nutritional needs of Asian populations".

He added: "This bilateral collaboration adds to others that we have established to position Singapore as a global hub for food and nutrition research."

This article was first published on JUNE 24, 2014.
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