Dr EK Tan is a senior consultant neurologist and clinician scientist at the Singapore General Hospital, National Neuroscience Institute, a Professor at Duke-NUS graduate medical school and a honorary Professor at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. He is the principal investigator of the Neurogenetics laboratory and co-director of the Movement Disorders center, an American National Parkinson Foundation accredited International Center of Excellence. Dr Tan acquired his medical degree and neurological accreditation in Singapore and is also a member and fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians in United Kingdom. He underwent further clinical and laboratory fellowship training at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA.
Dr Tan specialises in movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, ataxias, tremor and gait problems. His primary research interests are in genetic epidemiology and the molecular mechanism underpinning disease causing genes in Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. He is also actively engaged in clinical trials, neuroimaging, quality of life and pharmacogenetic studies in various neurological diseases.
Dr Tan leads a consortium in translational clinical research in Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders. PD is the most common neurodegenerative condition seen at the National Neuroscience Institute and is the main neurodegenerative condition where significant impact on patients’ quality of life can be achieved with improved care. Dr Tan’s group is involved in the identification of genes involved in PD and related degenerative diseases with a focus on whole-genome and exome analysis and massive parallel sequencing. Building on these potential genetic discoveries, his group investigates the interaction of the various molecular pathways using different in vitro and in vivo models (Mouse, Drosophila, Zebra Fish), with the aim at identifying early markers and to explore potential therapeutic interventions through the selection of viable targets. The program involves participation from many local and international research and clinical institutions and pharmaceutical companies. The team is also involved in various pharmaceutical drug trials.
An Integrated GWAS and Whole Genome Exome and Sequencing Analysis
While exome coding variants have an important role, the analysis of exome coding variants might not capture the non-coding regulatory risk-association variants. Genome wide association (GWAS) is effective in identifying the regulatory risk variants, but will miss the coding risk variants due to their rarity. We are conducting an integrated GWAS and exome coding variant analysis to further dissect and identify genetic risk factors and their functional significance in PD patients.
Development of Novel Behavioural tests in Parkinsonian Mouse Models
In clinical studies his group found that non motor symptoms (behavioral, autonomic etc) are common in PD patients. The exact relationship and interaction between non-motor and motor domains is unclear. They are investigating the link between motor and non-motor traits in the transgenic mice and aim to develop new behavioral tests that can best capture the whole spectrum of non motor abnormalities observed in PD patients.
Drug Testing and Discovery in Neurodegenerative diseases
His group focuses on identification of substrates and interacting partners of proteins encoded by disease causing genes in PD, including PINK1 and LRRK2. Using the in vivo models that they have developed, they aim to utilize contemporary genetics/genomics and other technological platforms to identify disease pathways, cellular processes and drug targets. Working with pharmaceutical companies, they are testing potential therapeutic agents/compounds in their animal models.