​IPRAMHO Executive Committee members – Dr Tan Ngiap Chuan, Director of Research, SingHealth Polyclinics (left); Prof Tan Kok Hian, Head and Senior Consultant, Perinatal Audit and Epidemiology Unit, Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine (centre); Dr Ang Seng Bin, Head and Consultant Family Physician, Family Medicine Service, KKH (right); and Dr Tang Wern Ee, Head, Clinical Research Unit, National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (not pictured).

To lower the risk of metabolic disease in future generations, KKH is establishing Singapore’s first Integrated Platform for Research in Advancing Metabolic Health Outcomes in Women and Children (IPRAMHO), in partnership with SingHealth Polyclinics and National Healthcare Group Polyclinics. 

Metabolic syndromes are a group of conditions – increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

“Obesity and diabetes are two of the most urgent metabolic health issues. Singapore has one of the highest incidences of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in the world, with recent KKH studies showing that about 15 to 20 per cent of pregnant women have GDM,” says IPRAMHO lead, Professor Tan Kok Hian, Head and Senior Consultant, Perinatal Audit and Epidemiology Unit, Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine, KKH.

“To combat and reverse these trends in our population, IPRAMHO will be Singapore’s first collaborative ecosystem for advancing research in metabolic health, with dedicated teams pursuing methodologies such as translational medicine and implementation science, health systems, primary care, behavioural science and human factors, as well as women’s and children’s health epidemiology.”


Translating research into innovation and intervention

To track and manage metabolic health for women and children, IPRAMHO seeks to develop a seamless, integrated model of care, including a national registry, and optimised implementation of effective population prevention strategies and diabetes and weight reduction programmes, supported by evidence-based collaborative joint research.

“Going beyond exploring the developmental origins and pathways of metabolic health, our research will focus on the psychosocial, mental and structural pathways of interaction between patients and care providers at the tertiary, primary and community level,” adds Prof Tan.

“Our goal is to revolutionise the way medical professionals and health systems engage with patients and women and children at risk for obesity and diabetes in managing their day-to-day health, and allowing us to develop evidence-based, effective, affordable and scalable interventions.”

Building long-term capacity and capability

In the long term, IPRAMHO will function as a centralised research and training hub, spurring industry partnerships, collaborations with global healthcare leaders, and seed grants for research into medical technology, healthcare innovation, nutrition and dietetics. It will also provide a strong core to build a pipeline of researchers, clinician scientists and innovators.

“By looking at women’s and children’s health starting from the womb, and optimising the continuum of care from pregnancy to childbirth, neonate to infant, child, adolescent and eventually adult, we are laying the foundations for transformation of our nation’s health, and bettering the future of our generations to come,” says Prof Tan. 


Innovating for the future

To improve the lives and health of future generations, clinician researchers and scientists at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) are pioneering innovative ways to advance women’s and children’s health outcomes. Supported by $7 million in centre grants from the National Medical Research Council, researchers from KKH, in collaboration with National Dental Centre Singapore, SingHealth Polyclinics and National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, are exploring key areas which impact women’s and children’s health and wellbeing, including auto-immunology, childbirth and persistent pain, genetics, metabolic syndromes and endometriosis.

Key research areas: