Temasek, Wellcome partner on $60m health initiative


Simon Hungin


Wellcome Leap and Temasek Trust have partnered to launch the $60 million Dynamic Resilience Programme which aims to close the gap between health spans and average life expectancy.

Over the last 100 years, average life expectancy has increased from 35 to 70 years. However, over that same period, health spans have not increased at a corresponding rate to that of the average life expectancy, with more than one in two adults over 60 having multimorbidity or multiple co-existing health issues. This alongside the decreasing ability to respond to and cope with stress, also known as dynamic resilience, makes society more vulnerable to sudden and serious health deterioration in the event of acute illness or injury.

‘The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2030, 1 in 6 people globally will be aged 60 years and above, and many will be afflicted with multiple co-existing health conditions. Our partnership with Wellcome Leap to further the research on dynamic resilience is aimed at extending health spans – the number of years spent in good health – so that more people can live fuller and healthier lives for longer,’ said Desmond Kuek, CEO, Temasek Trust.      

Frailty reduces our ability to live independently and increases the likelihood of falls, hospitalisation, the need for long-term care, and death. With frailty affecting up to half of adults over 65 globally, multimorbidity poses an urgent challenge for health services.  

Resilient individuals enjoy good health for most of their lives, and can bounce back from significant stress events. The aim of the Dynamic Resilience Programme is to reduce frailty progression by 25 per cent, which in turn could prevent a further 71,000 hospitalisations and 8,000 deaths annually in the US alone, with the benefit extending to 87 million older adults globally.

Dr Regina E. Dugan, CEO, Wellcome Leap stated ‘We all share a desire to be healthy and live independently to our last breath, to do so, we will need to be able to measure, support, and maintain robust levels of dynamic resilience.’

While new therapies have been developed to combat age-related diseases and frailty, clinical trials have been hindered by the lack of reliable biomarkers for resilience and frailty, incomplete understanding of resilience mechanisms, and a lack of mechanism-targeting interventions to prevent health deterioration.

There are three goals for the three-year Dynamic Resilience Programme:

  • To identify new biomarker signatures of resilience that predict health outcomes after a stress event
  • To understand what causes frailty and resilience
  • To test ways to improve biological resilience in at-risk people prior to predictable stress events

Ageing does not have to mean poor health. Resilience offers a new way to understand health spans and how to prevent frailty and the age-related coexistence of multiple chronic health conditions.

Wellcome Leap builds and executes bold, unconventional programmes, funded at scale. Programmes that aim to deliver breakthroughs in human health over 5 – 10 years. Founded by the Wellcome Trust in 2020 as a US non-profit with initial funding of $300 million, Leap programmes target complex human health challenges with the goal of achieving breakthrough scientific and technological solutions.

Temasek Trust, established by Temasek Holdings, is a steward of philanthropic assets, advocate of sustainability, and catalyst of positive impact. It provides governance and financial oversight of non-profit endowments and gifts for an ecosystem of entities with the shared purpose of building better for every generation by protecting the planet, uplifting communities, connecting people, and advancing capabilities. 

Simon Hungin is a freelance writer that supports Alliance magazine.

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