On April 14th, an international seminar was held at ToMMo. Professor Chen-Yang Shen, Chief Executive at Taiwan Biobank, an expert of epidemiology and genetic medicine, gave a presentation titled "Taiwan Biobank for the health of next generations". He introduced their research projects for developing next generation medicine and health care in Taiwan.
After several years of preparatory studies, Taiwan Biobank started full-scale cohort studies in 2012. One is the resident cohort study and the other is the patient cohort study. Each study will recruit two hundred thousand and one hundred thousand participants, respectively. In Taiwan, according to Professor Shen, informed consent for participation in cohort study should be obtained under the legislation for handling genomic research and personal data at biobank. "Taiwan Biobank conducts various research projects, including whole genome analysis, SNPs analysis, research of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, and research of Alzheimer's disease", he said.
He also presented the interesting epidemiological study across Taiwan. In 2004, the association between the HLA-B*1502 allele and Carbamazepine-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome in Taiwan was reported. Professor Shen and his colleagues have showed that the avoidance of Carbamazepine prescription to patients carrying this allele significantly reduced the risk of Stevens-Johnson syndrome (1). The research elucidated the genetic information assists in proper drug treatment of the public, and has planted the seeds for understanding of biobank and genetic research in Taiwan.
We also welcomed five more researchers from Taiwan Biobank, and took them around our facilities, concluding with a brief review of ToMMo's projects.
(1) Chen, P., et al.: N Engl J Med 364 (12), 1126-1133, 2011