Academic Profile : Faculty

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Dr Fabian Lim Chin Leong
Senior Lecturer, Medical Education (Postgraduate Programmes), Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Senior Lecturer, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
• Ms Margaret Yap, Research Fellow
• Ms Rachel Soh, Research Assistant
• Mr Nicholas keong, Research Assistant
• Dr Serena Low, PhD student
• Dr Michael Yam, PhD Student

Dr Fabia Lim obtained his BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Oregon, USA, and his PhD degree from the University of Queensland, Australia. He also has an MBA degree from the University of Surrey, UK. Dr Lim is an Exercise Physiologist with research interests that span between the drivers and barriers of human work tolerance in hot environment and the roles habitual exercise in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.

Dr Lim is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the inaugural President of the Asian College of Exercise and Sports Science. He also serves in the Editorial Board for Advances in Physiology Education, a journal of the American Physiological Society. Dr Lim is a recipient of the Nanyang Education Award (NTU) and the Defence Science Scholarship (MINDEF), and he is also recognised for establishing the Singapore Sports Institute, which he led as Executive Director from 2011 – 2014.

Dr Lim has published widely in peer-review journals and book chapters, covering a variety of topics, such as obesity, nutrition, fitness assessment, exercise immunology, hydration, diabetes, thermoregulation and heat injury. He is recognized internationally for introducing the Dual Pathway Model of Heat Stroke, which has shifted the paradigm of this ancient illness. His research has contributed to the promotion of health, safety and performance among soldiers in the Singapore Armed Forces and among aviation firefighters in the Airport Emergency Services, Changi Airport Group.
The Exercise Physiology Laboratory is positioned to conduct translational research by bridging the knowledge gap between basic science and applied research. The laboratory focuses on whole-human experimentation in both ill and healthy populations and our mission is to investigate the medicinal properties of habitual exercise in preventing and treating age-associated chronic disease and the physiological mechanisms that promote and limit work tolerance.

Exercise and Age-Associated Chronic Disease
The strategic space for A/Prof Lim's research in age-associated chronic disease (ACD) is to investigate the mechanisms and effects of exercise as a key mediator in preventing, impeding and reversing neuro-cognitive impairments, musculoskeletal decline and the development of metabolic syndrome in the ageing continuum. These ACD are commonly reported in older individuals and they have a common set of mediators, which interacts mechanistically with both acute and chronic adaptations to exercise stimulus (Fig 1). We collaborates strategically with investigators who provide expertise in the biomarkers and mechanisms of non-exercise mediators that influence the risks and development of these ACD.

Research goal

Research Projects

Occupation and Metabolic Health
A/Prof Lim's lab is interested in using occupation as platform to investigate the interaction between exercise and metabolic disease. The development of metabolic disease involves the complex interaction between the host, environment and disease mechanisms over time. While much is known about the biological pathways of metabolic disease, knowledge on the primary environment of the host and the risks of metabolic disease expression are less known. The occupation-based model provides a useful platform for investigating the host-environment-disease interaction because workers spend a significant amount of their wakeful hours in the work environment. Unlike the general population approach, the occupation-model also provides a more uniform set of opportunities and limitations in implementing health-related interventions. In this regards, the taxi driver vocation provides an ideal living laboratory for investigating these research questions because the known risk factors for metabolic disease expression are found in the environment of the trade. If proven to be successful, this investigation model can be extended to other occupations that promote the development metabolic syndromes.

Self-reported Habitual Exercise and Metabolic Disease
A/Prof Lim's lab is also interested in gaining deep understanding on the opposing effects of habitually sedentary and active lifestyles on metabolic disease development in young, middle-aged and older populations. As metabolic disease is observed to be occurring in younger individuals, we are particularly curious about the changing effects of habitual exercise on risks of metabolic disease across lifespan. These research questions address the current knowledge gaps on the need to vary management strategies for the same disease at different life stages. The roles of vascular health, inflammatory cytokines, microbes and regulation of dietary behaviour in metabolic disease development will also be investigated.

Exercise Modality and Protection of Musculoskeletal Health
Ageing leads to the loss of bone density and muscle mass, which are major risk factors for the development of osteopenia, osteoporosis, sarcopenia and frailty in older men and women. In Singapore about 20.3% of women >50 years old meet the criteria of osteoporosis and the incidence of hip fracture between 1991 and 1998 was 152 per 100,000 for men and 402 per 100,000 in women >50 years old. Compared to 1960, the current incidence rate of osteoporotic fracture is higher by 1.5 fold in men and 5-fold in women. Notably, the main non-clinical key risk factors identified for hip fracture was the lack of load bearing activity in the immediate past and the absence of vigorous sport activities in young adulthood. Since our musculoskeletal system responds and adapts to physical stressors, we are interested in understanding the effects of different exercise modalities on musculoskeletal health of older men and women. This study will recruit participants (>50 years of age) who have been participating in brisk walking, running, tai qi, gym exercises and exercises dance classes. The participants will undergo a series of measurements to measure their musculoskeletal health status (e.g, body fat, bone density, hand grip and upper body strength, walking speed, balance test, flexibility and cognitive functions).

Human Movement and Work Tolerance
A/Prof Lim is also interested in the physiological mechanisms that promote and limit work tolerance in extreme environment. In this domain, A/Prof Lim investigates the interaction of physiological pathways that regulate body temperature, fluid balance, metabolism, gastrointestinal and immune responses during prolonged physical work exposure in the tropical environment. Besides enhancing work performance, this domain of research also enhances the understanding on the mechanisms of heat injury, which is an increasing health threat due to climate changes, especially in Asia. Between 2013 and 2014, there were 3 bouts of heat waves that resulted in approximately 30 deaths cases in China and Japan.
  • Community Tai Chi programme as a complementary modality to mitigate age-associated decline in metabolic and musculoskeletal health in older adults
  • Design, validate and recommend a Heat Acclimatisation Programme and Operations-Rest Cycle for Airport Emergency Service Officers - Changi Airport Group
  • Molecular Phenotyping of Young Adult-Onset Diabetes Mellitus Patients in Singapore - A Systems Medicine Approach
  • Toward AI Opponent in VR Game
  • Translating 'omics' into a stratified approach for prevention of type 2 diabetes: TOAST-T2D
Nanyang Education Award (School)
Fellowships & Other Recognition
American College of Sports Medicine