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Launch of MOH-IMU Seremban Diabetes (SeDia) Cohort Study

13 Jul 2023

10 July 2023 – The Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) and International Medical University (IMU) launched the first large-scale cohort study on diabetes of its kind to be conducted in Malaysia recently.

The study, named “SeDia Cohort Study”, was officially launched by Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang Di Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir. The launch event held in Seremban was also attended by Yang Berhormat Minister of Health Dr Zaliha Mustafa and Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of IMU Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Baba.

The Memorandum of Understanding between MOH and IMU for the establishment of the Seremban Diabetes (SeDia) Cohort Study was signed on 17 May 2022 while the research protocol obtained the approval of MOH’s Medical Research and Ethics Committee (MREC) on 17 March 2023. The study aims to holistically explore all the factors involved in the development of diabetes and complications that patients experience. An estimated 3.9 million Malaysian adults are affected by diabetes.


Malaysia has the highest incidence of diabetes in Asia Pacific and amongst the highest in the world. The prevalence of diabetes shows a steady upward trend, from 11.2% in 2011 to 18.3% in the National Health & Morbidity Survey 2019. By 2025, it is projected that 7 million adults in Malaysia will have diabetes, representing a significant healthcare burden on the nation. The cost of treatment for diabetes patients, not including the cost of treatment for diabetes complications, is estimated at around RM3 billion per year.


This 12-year study marks the first important step towards obtaining data that is socio-culturally relevant to the local community. It involves over 5,000 patients registered as part of the Klinik Kesihatan Seremban’s Diabetes Registry and over 7,000 of their family members, to investigate the complex web of interactions that contribute to the development of diabetes and its complications. A significant amount of time is required in this study because the development of diabetes, along with its associated complications, also occur over an extended period.


The SeDia Cohort Study will encompass a comprehensive examination of various factors, encompassing genetics and family history of diabetes to lifestyle and environmental factors, dietary regimes, physical activity, socio-economic levels and healthcare delivery. By understanding the complex connections between these factors, the aim is to uncover optimal strategies for diabetes prevention and treatment. Subsequently, this knowledge can be translated into implementing evidence-based public healthcare policies and programmes that are relevant to the local community. This ensures the efficacy of developed treatment and prevention initiatives in addressing the escalating burden of diabetes in Malaysia.


In conjunction with the official launch of SeDia Cohort, a one-day symposium titled “Precision Medicine in Diabetes” was organised.

Among the symposium speakers were

Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim bin Sulaiman

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at IMU
Principal Investigator of SeDia Cohort

Four members of the Scientific Advisory Committee of SeDia Cohort

Prof Dato’ Dr Mafauzy Mohamed
(Consultant Endocrinologist and Member of the IMU Board of Governors)

Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Abdul Jamal
(Senior Fellow at the UKM Medical Molecular Biology Institute (UMBI))

Datuk Dr Zanariah Hussein
(Consultant Endocrinologist at MOH)

Prof Dr Edward Gregg
(Imperial College London)

With the highest incidence of diabetes occurring amongst adults (above 18 years old) in Negeri Sembilan at 33.2%, Klinik Kesihatan Seremban Jalan Rasah was selected as the study’s Recruitment Centre while the IMU Institute of Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI) will serve as the study’s Coordination Centre and storage facility for biological specimens.


Diabetic patients registered with the Diabetes Registry of the Klinik Kesihatan Seremban will be invited to participate in a study along with their adult family members. Their participation is voluntary. By using digital systems and data infrastructure, the participants’ personal and medical information will be collected through a comprehensive questionnaire, capturing socio-demographic data; anthropometric measurements; medical history; dietary habits; physical activity; laboratory tests such as hematological profile, blood glucose profile, kidney function tests and liver function tests; socio-economic information and psychosocial health. Blood samples will also be taken for genetic profiling to study individual predisposition to diabetes and, for diabetic patients, predisposition to complications and response to medications and physical and dietary interventions.


Over 10,000 participants will be recruited for this study over a period of 3 years beginning July 2023. Subsequently, regular follow-ups will be conducted with each participant, and the process of data collection will be reiterated every 3 years over a span of 12 years to assess the occurrence of diabetes and the emergence of new diabetes-related complications. In addition to that, information on life events such as hospital admissions and deaths for each participant will be collected and updated annually.


In line with the aim of establishing SeDia Cohort as a study of national significance, local and international researchers will be granted access to SeDia Cohort for further analysis and studies, subject to the approval of MREC. This is crucial to maximise research and development resources, both domestic and international, to gain a comprehensive understanding of this complex disease and develop specific intervention strategies for individuals and communities. as well as contribute to shaping the future of diabetes management at the national level.


Diabetes is deeply rooted in our Malaysian behaviour, culture, and lifestyle. Most studies on diabetes are short-term in nature and examine individual factors of significance in isolation. Many large-scale diabetes cohort studies are conducted in populations distinct from Malaysia and their findings may not be directly relevant to the local population. Therefore, the SeDia Cohort study provides an opportunity for researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the role of genetics and the environment within the local community. Consequently, it can further improve diabetes management guidelines and public health policies towards better health outcomes.


Due to the extensive scope of the SeDia Cohort study, which involves a large participant pool over a long duration, substantial funding is required. The study will be funded through public funds, including contributions from corporations and individuals. Since diabetes is a national issue that affects all parties, all stakeholders, especially corporations, foundations and philanthropists, are invited to join forces in finding solutions to this problem.


Supporting the SeDia Cohort Study as a Platinum Sponsor with a contribution of RM2 million is IHH Healthcare Malaysia (IHH MY). As part of IHH Healthcare Berhad – one of the world’s largest healthcare networks with 83 hospitals in 10 countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Türkiye and India – IHH MY is dedicated to making healthcare better, faster, easier and more affordable for patients.

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