[News] 2022/08/18

Notes for the TPMI Press Conference

Notes for the TPMI Press Conference

August 18, 2022


The Taiwan Precision Medicine Initiative (TPMI), a project that aims to develop optimal strategies for health management by studying the genetic and clinical profiles of 1 million participants, reached the major milestone of enrolling 500,000 participants in June 2022. The TPMI is now the largest study outside the United States and Europe and its results will benefit all Han Chinese around the world (18% of the world population).


The TPMI adopts the latest study design that focuses on speed, efficiency, sustainability, and participant engagement. With the help of nurses and physicians at the outpatient departments of 16 medical centers (and 33 of their affiliate hospitals), participants provide clinical information and residual samples from their routine blood tests to the TPMI for analysis. Genetic profiling is done on a custom-designed gene chip that contains 703,000 genetic markers selected to capture the key features of the Han Chinese. Without collecting biospecimens, conducting standardized tests, or filling out extensive surveys, patient enrollment is quick and efficient. Without storing biospecimens or distributing samples and data to external users, the project cost is kept low and sustainable. As results become available, they are returned to the participants with suggestions on how to prevent disease and maintain health. Patient privacy is maintained by storing de-identified, encrypted data in a central location at the Academia Sinica behind firewalls that cannot be accessed from the outside. All analyses are performed by a team of Academia Sinica statisticians so that no data transfer is necessary.


The TPMI was started in July 2019 by researchers at the Academia Sinica and partner hospital systems. The consortium grew to the current size by the end of 2021 and is currently recruiting ~20,000 participants per month. TPMI will develop disease risk predictors based on genetic profiles for the 10 most common diseases in Taiwan by March 2023 and for many more diseases by the time 1 million participants are enrolled and analyzed by the end of 2024.


Through collaboration with non-profit organizations and universities, the TPMI promote precision health by organizing public outreach and educational events to encourage everyone to support the Taiwan government’s goal of precision health for all.


As we mark the enrollment milestone, we thank the enthusiastic support of the 500,000+ participants, the doctors and nurses of the partner medical centers, and generous sponsors who donated NT$170 million to the project.


For the next phase of the TPMI, we will build on the momentum to complete the enrollment, genetic profiling, and analysis of the full cohort of 1 million people. The focus will be to translate the TPMI results to industry and the general public for sustainable development of precision health for all of Taiwan. Going forward, the TPMI missions include (1) expand the development of disease risk prediction algorithms for Han Chinese to promote disease prevention, early disease detection, and optimal medication use; (2) optimize the TPM SNP array; (3) develop and implement precision medicine at partner hospitals; and (4) invite industry partners to codevelop a precision health ecosystem to benefit both the people and the biotech industry in Taiwan.


An optimized precision health ecosystem will attract investments from international companies and enhance the value of Taiwan’s biomedicine sector while reducing Taiwan’s healthcare cost and increasing the “health span” of all Han Chinese around the world.