Academic Profile : Faculty

Prof John Chambers_Near Passport (400x514).jpg picture
Prof John Campbell Chambers
Professor, Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Director of Health Screening Centre, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
President’s Chair in Cardiovascular Epidemiology
Professor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Current Postdoctoral Fellows
- Dr Wang Xiaoyan, LKCMedicine
- Dr Pritesh Jain, LKCMedicine
- Dr Nilanjana Sadhu, LKCmedicine
- Dr Xie Wubin, LKCMedicine
- Dr Dorrain Low, LKCMedicine
- Dr Darwin Tay, LKCMedicine
- Dr Ng Hong Kiat, LKCMedicine
- Dr Theresia Mina, LKCMedicine

I am Professor of Cardiovascular Epidemiology (President’s Chair) at Nanyang Technological University, LKCMedicine. I am also Chief Scientific Officer for the National Precision Medicine Programme. My research aims to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease in Asian populations, and to translate these findings into new approaches for improved prevention and early detection of these major chronic diseases. We implement a range of molecular epidemiological strategies, with a particular emphasis on genetic variation, epigenetic regulation and metabolic variation. My recent research has led to discovery of novel genetic and epigenetic pathways associated with coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and related metabolic disturbances implicating new molecular pathways underlying these diseases, and biomarkers for risk stratification and early diagnosis. I also lead interventional clinical trials for health promotion and disease prevention, using personalized and precision medicine approaches, as well as population-based, public health actions.

My primary research activities include:

1. The SG100K cohort study. I established and lead the SG100K study, funded by NMRC and adopted as a core platform of the National Precision Medicine program. The SG100K study brings rich clinical data, extensive molecular phenotyping and electronic medical record linkage for 100,000 consenting Singaporeans. The SG100K cohort enables me to pursue my own research, but importantly also enable the work of others. As Chief Investigator for SG100K, I am leading the framework for making the de-identified data available to the Singapore biomedical research ecosystem, as a data platform that will enable hundreds of researchers to pursue state of the art research across a very wide range of use cases.

2. Genomics of diabetes and other chronic disease. I established and lead the South Asian Type-2 diabetes (SAT2D) consortium, comprising genomic data from Asian population cohorts in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Mauritius, USA and the UK (2011-present). In collaboration with equivalent genomic studies from other ethnic groups (DIAMANTE consortium), we have completed experiments that have helped identify hundreds of genetic loci influencing type-2 diabetes across global populations. The results provide new insights into the disturbances in islet, adipose and hypothalamic pathways that can lead to diabetes, and have also advanced the use of polygenic risk scores as a tool for better identification of susceptible individuals. I have also been a driver and key contributor to multiple international studies that have systematically explored the genetic basis for cardiometabolic risk factors such as dyslipdaemia and hypertension, as well as for cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

3. DNA methylation and human health. I have been at the forefront of studies exploring how changes in genome regulation, as quantified through measurement of DNA methylation, are linked to obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. We have demonstrated that disturbances of DNA methylation precede and predict metabolic dysregulation. Our recent work highlights aberrant activation of key nuclear regulatory pathways, including IRF4, JUNB and PLAG1 that provide mechanistic links to inflammation, insulin resistance and pancreatic beta cell failure (in press), as well as the genetic, nutritional and physiological processes that are driving them. Our panels of methylation markers improve risk stratification amongst obese individuals and are the basis for our newly formed spin-out company Quantum Leap Innovations pts (2023+) that seeks to bring these discoveries to clinical application.

4. Metabolic variation in Asian populations. My group has established a highly productive collaborated with Metabolon Inc, a global leader in metabolomic profiling by mass spectroscopy. Together we have carried comprehensive metabolomic profiling of 10,000 Asian people from the SG100K cohort to create a globally unique assessment of metabolic variation in our population. We have used the data to identify a novel reverse cholesterol transport mechanism that is protective for atherosclerosis, with in vitro and in vivo validation. We have also demonstrated how Asian specific nutritional patterns intersect with and drive metabolic variation, with links to chronic disease. These experiments provide new insights into disease pathways, as well as opportunities to reframe the debate around health dietary patterns for Asian populations.

5. The National Precision Medicine program. I am Chief Scientific Officer for the Singapore National Precision Medicine. Through this role I am shaping and driving the realisation of the Precision Medicine scientific agenda in Singapore. I have established a core, multi-disciplinary Data Science Team at LKC Medicine that will lead the analysis of the SG100K data and linked genomic and electronic medical records. During 2024, this will bring a planned 10 new RF headcounts to LKC Medicine. I am creating industry partnerships around the resource that brings funding to grow the Data Science Team and deliver further enhancement of the SG100K dataset (Boehringer Ingelheim announced as first partner). This role places LKC Medicine centre stage in the global landscape of population and global health studies, and with a key focus on delivering better health outcomes for the citizens of Singapore.

6. Global Health Research. I am an active contributor to global health research focussed on improving cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes for Asian populations living in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). With funding from the UK National Institute for Health Research, I have established a Global Health Research Network that now includes more than 200 researchers from across 11 organisations in Australia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the UK, and Singapore (NTU). Our network is pursuing five primary areas of activity: i. observational epidemiological research through a longitudinal population study of >200,000 South Asians; ii. development and evaluation of mHealth interventions for diabetes prevention; iii. task shifting and strengthening of non-communicable disease care by front line workers; iv. policy based interventions to create healthier environments in which people live; and v. training of early career research to build biomedical research capacity and capabilities in LMIC settings.

Through these activities I am not simply pursuing state-of-the-art research in my own field but increasingly am creating the resources, networks and training programs that strengthen, enable, and empower the research of colleagues from across multiple organisations and disciplines.
  • Advancing precision medicine for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Asian populations
  • Asian Skin Microbiome Programme 2.0 (ASMP 2.0 - PI Staffan)
  • Asian Skin Microbiome Programme 2.0 (ASMP 2.0)
  • Global Health Research Unit and Network for Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease in South Asia
  • Indoor air microbiomes as a gateway to exposome-guided precision medicine for respiratory disease
  • President's Chair in Cardiovascular Epidemiology (John Chambers)
  • Preventive and Predictive Population Health Study
Awards
1. 2021 NHG-LKC Clinician-Scientist Award
2. 2021 Nanyang Research Award
3. 2018 ‘Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher for Genetics
 
Fellowships & Other Recognition
Co-founder of Quantum Leap Innovations Pte (2023) that seeks to use quantum dot technologies, and lab-on-chip microfluidics to bring genomic diagnostics to clinical application as point of care tests. Currently finalising first round of funding as a collaboration with a major global technology company.
 
Supervision of PhD Students
Ms Ananya Gupta, LKCMedicine
Dr Joanne Ngeow, LKCMedicine