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Fighting the Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic in Asia Posted on: 07 February 2012

Workshop Addresses Developing Metabolic Surgery to Help
Fight Type 2 Diabetes in the Asia-Pacific Region  
First Asia-Pacific Workshop on Metabolic Surgery for Diabetes 
(Singapore, Feb. 6 – 7, 2012) 

NEW YORK (Feb. 5, 2012) — Leading international experts in type 2 diabetes will gather in Singapore on Feb. 6 and 7 to address specific challenges and opportunities of bariatric surgery for Asian patients and health care systems.

The Asia-Pacific Workshop on Metabolic Surgery for Diabetes is part of a global educational program developed by the Diabetes Surgery Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and presented jointly with  A*STAR Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences and the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute of Melbourne, Australia. The event is organized with the partnership of the Qatar Foundation.   

A recent position statement by the International Diabetes Federation recognizes surgery as an appropriate treatment for obese persons with type 2 diabetes not achieving recommended targets with available medical therapies, especially when there are other major co-morbidities such as hypertension and dyslipidemia.   

The statement stressed that surgery should not be seen as a last resort and should be considered earlier in the management of this disease. “Bariatric surgery was originally conceived as a therapy for weight reduction; what we have learned is that it may be best used to target diabetes and metabolic illness, and not just weight,” says Dr. Francesco Rubino, Chief of gastrointestinal metabolic surgery and director of the Metabolic and Diabetes Surgery Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and associate professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.  

Bariatric/metabolic surgery has been shown to dramatically improve diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and death. In spite of the potential gains, however, access to surgery for those eligible is very limited and barriers are substantial.  Less than 2 percent of eligible patients have access to bariatric/metabolic surgery in the U.S., and the figure is even lower in the rest of the world.  

So far, bariatric surgery has been even less popular in Asia than elsewhere, given the lower incidence of severe obesity in the region.   “Asian populations have an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease at lower BMI levels compared with subjects of European descent, due to more abdominal fat,” says Paul Zimmet from Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. He also serves as a co-director of the workshop. “However diabetes is now rising epidemically in India, China, Japan and other countries. More than one third of type 2 diabetes in the world is now in the Asia region,” noted Zimmet.

The Singapore meeting is expected to raise awareness about diabetes surgery in Asia and craft an agenda for health care policies to improve access to surgery for eligible patients with diabetes. 

This workshop aims at providing a platform from which to promote a scientifically sound, safe and orderly development of this emerging field.  “We are delighted that we have been invited to co-organize and host this inaugural workshop in Asia. Currently, SICS has research collaborations with hospitals in this field, but diabetes surgery is still nascent in Asia. This workshop is a critical step towards developing the emerging field of diabetes surgery quickly and safely in the region. It reflects the integrated effort that scientists and clinicians are taking to develop future innovative solutions for diabetes care and research,” says Judith Swain, executive director of A*STAR’s Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences. 

The workshop will host an important consensus development session for the establishment of criteria to recognize Centers of Excellence for Diabetes Surgery in Asia, an initiative of the Asian Pacific Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Society (APMBSS), one of many diabetes and surgical organizations that have endorsed the Singapore meeting. 

The Asia-Pacific Workshop is another in a series of international meetings that have been presented by Dr. Rubino and his colleagues in an effort to provide an evidence-based approach to metabolic surgery as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.  

The Diabetes Surgery Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell is committed to promoting a scientifically sound development of diabetes surgery in the United States and worldwide through a global educational program that includes several high-profile  scientific gatherings aimed at raising awareness of diabetes surgery and  fostering regional collaborations between endocrinologists, surgeons, scientists and policy makers. The educational program of the Diabetes Surgery Center is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Covidien.

For media queries, please contact:

Linda Kamateh
Tel: (212) 821-0560

Ms Ong Siok Ming
Senior Officer, Corporate Communications
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Tel: (+65) 6826 6254

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease; the first indication of bone marrow’s critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit and

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and six consortia & centres, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their immediate vicinity.

A*STAR supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry. It also supports extramural research in the universities, and with other local and international partners.

For more information about A*STAR, please visit

About the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS)
Established in 2007, the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) is a research institute within the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and its mission is to develop disease-oriented clinical and translational research programmes in key disease areas.
SICS is distinguished by its focus on clinical sciences and the use of innovative approaches and technologies that enable the efficient and effective study of human health and diseases. The clinical scientists in SICS conduct the full spectrum of “bench to bedside” research activities in  metabolic diseases (including diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance), pathways to normal growth and development (including cognitive and behavioural development), nutritional sciences as well as in certain viral infectious diseases such as chronic viral diseases.

The institute aims to attract, train and nurture clinician-scientists and to develop joint programs with universities, academic medical centres, government hospitals and research institutes.

For more information on SICS, please visit: