International Journal of Medical Sciences

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15 December 2018

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Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(7):639-647. doi:10.7150/ijms.18880


Characterization of the Asian Phenotype - An Emerging Paradigm with Clinicopathological and Human Research Implications

Melvin Khee-Shing Leow

Clinical Investigator, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR; Deputy Director, Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC), Singapore; Senior Consultant Endocrinologist, Tan Tock Seng Hospital; Clinician Scientist, National Healthcare Group (NHG); Clinical Associate Professor, National University of Singapore; Adjunct Associate Professor, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore; Associate Professor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


Background: Modern medicine recognizes that salient, inherent variations between Caucasians and Asians exist. Radical changes are occurring in the health scene with increasing emphasis centered on the recognition of inter-individual variations unique to Asians that impact on medical management and outcomes.

Aim: This review analyzes distinct features or outcomes in terms of epidemiology, disease thresholds, diagnostic cutoffs and treatment responses of Asian people compared with non-Asians.

Methods: This review is based on a literature search via PubMed and MEDLINE for relevant articles related to the Asian phenotype and its impact on health and disease.

Results: An 'Asian phenotype' could be characterized across the spectrum of biomedical disciplines and underscores the major challenges clinicians must face in their daily management of a cosmopolitan population and their extrapolation of research outcomes.

Conclusion: Interventions for various ailments that have traditionally ignored population differences have now entered the age of personalized, stratified or precision medicine requiring an individualized approach being adopted as a new standard of care. Factoring in Asian phenotypes is essential for the medical research community and the development of improved clinical practice guidelines across a continuum of disciplines that will ultimately translate to better human health round the world.

Keywords: Asian phenotype, Personalized medicine, Diagnostic cutoffs, Ethnicity, Inter-individual variations.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Leow MKS. Characterization of the Asian Phenotype - An Emerging Paradigm with Clinicopathological and Human Research Implications. Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(7):639-647. doi:10.7150/ijms.18880. Available from