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Koh Woon Puay



Woon-Puay Koh is a Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School and Joint-Professor at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore. She received her MBBS (Honours) from NUS, her PhD in immunology from the University of Sydney, Australia, and postdoctoral training in epidemiology from the University of Southern California in USA.

Prof Koh is the Principal Investigator of the Singapore Chinese Health Study, a 63,257-strong cohort of middle-aged and elderly Chinese Singaporeans established for the long-term study of dietary and environmental determinants of chronic diseases common among Singaporeans. She has co-authored over 350 scientific papers on diet, lifestyle and genes in relation to risk of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gout, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and tuberculosis disease. She has received over $18 million dollars in research funding from NIH (USA) and NMRC (Singapore), and is a recipient of the Ministry of Health NMRC Clinician Scientist Award (Senior Investigator) (2014-2019), the Duke-NUS Dean’s Excellence Awards in Research (2016) and Leadership (2018), and the National Day Public Administration Medal (Bronze) (2019).

Besides research, her other passion is in mentoring, and she is the Director of the Centre for Clinician-Scientist Development (CCSD) in Duke-NUS, a centre established to consolidate support and nurture clinician-scientists, spanning from graduating Duke-NUS students to aspiring clinician-researchers across the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.

Research Highlight

Being a population health scientist, Prof Koh’s research interest and expertise is in unravelling the epidemiology of chronic diseases of importance to Singapore and the world at large, such as cancer, cardio-metabolic, musculoskeletal and neurodegenerative diseases. Being medically qualified in Singapore, and having had PhD training in experimental research and postdoctoral training in epidemiology, Prof Koh seeks to integrate biology, medicine and epidemiology in etiological studies of the aforementioned chronic diseases. Her research incorporates her knowledge in clinical medicine and training in laboratory science with epidemiologic methods to unravel putative mechanistic pathways in disease etiology. Beyond establishing associations between exposures and risk of disease, her research uses molecular and genetic tools to identify modifiable factors (such as lifestyle factors) that could be applicable to disease prevention, or biomarkers (including but not limited to genetic markers) that could be developed for early detection or screening of disease. In addition to bringing benefit to the scientific community, she also aims to translate her research into public health outcomes by providing evidence for the foundation of public health education and policy in Singapore and the world at large.

Selected publications in epidemiology of chronic diseases (out of total of 330 publications)

1.Yii AC, Soh AZ, Chee CBE, Wang YT, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Asthma, Sinonasal Disease, and the Risk of Active Tuberculosis. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2019; 7: 641-648 e641

2. Wu J, Dong W, Pan XF, Feng L, Yuan JM, Pan A, Koh WP. Relation of cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking in midlife with risk of cognitive impairment in late life: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Age Ageing 2019; 48: 101-107.

3. Wang Y, Sun L, Lin X, Yuan JM, Koh WP, Pan A. Retinol binding protein 4 and risk of type 2 diabetes in Singapore Chinese men and women: a nested case-control study. Nutrition & Metabolism 2019; 16: 3.

4. Talaei M, Koh WP, Yuan JM, van Dam RM. DASH Dietary Pattern, Mediation by Mineral Intakes, and the Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Stroke Mortality. Journal of the American Heart Association 2019; 8: e011054.

5. Oh CC, Jin A, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Coffee, tea, caffeine, and risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in a Chinese population: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. J Am Acad Dermatol 2019.

6. Lu Y, Wang Y, Liang X, Zou L, Ong CN, Yuan JM, Koh WP, Pan A. Serum Amino Acids in Association with Prevalent and Incident Type 2 Diabetes in A Chinese Population. Metabolites 2019; 9.

7. Geng TT, Jafar TH, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Long-term incense use and the risk of end-stage renal disease among Chinese in Singapore: the Singapore Chinese health study. BMC Nephrol 2019; 20: 9.

8. Geng TT, Jafar TH, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Sleep duration and risk of end-stage renal disease: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Sleep Med 2019; 54: 22-27.

9. Chen GC, Neelakantan N, Martin-Calvo N, Koh WP, Yuan JM, Bonaccio M, Iacoviello L, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Qin LQ, van Dam RM. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and risk of stroke and stroke subtypes. Eur J Epidemiol 2019.

10. Talaei M, Hosseini N, Koh AS, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Association of "Elevated Blood Pressure" and "Stage 1 Hypertension" With Cardiovascular Mortality Among an Asian Population. Journal of the American Heart Association 2018; 7.